SCO's Samarkand Meet Will See Participation of All Leaders: Russian Envoy
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Beijing: All leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will attend a two-day summit of the grouping scheduled to be held at Samarkand in Uzbekistan next week, Russia's Ambassador Andrey Denisov said here on Wednesday.
In what is seen as the first official confirmation of the in-person summit of the SCO in which India is a member, Denisov said, "in less than 10 days we will have a regular meeting of our SCO leaders in Samarkand, we are getting ready for it."
"In general, this summit promises to be interesting, because it will be the first full-fledged summit since the pandemic," he was quoted by Russia's official news agency TASS as saying at a media conference here.
The Beijing-headquartered SCO is an eight-member economic and security bloc consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
Diplomatic sources here said host Uzbekistan has informally confirmed the attendance of all the leaders, though India, China and Pakistan have not yet officially announced the participation of their leaders in the summit to be held on September 15-16.
Denisov said Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet on the sidelines of the SCO summit, which will be their first in-person meeting after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
Asked for her reaction, the newly-appointed Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told a media briefing here that she has no information on it.
If all leaders attend, it will be the first in-person summit of the influential grouping of the Central Asian states, providing an opportunity for the leaders to have meetings on the sidelines.
The 2020 Moscow summit was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic while the 2021 summit at Dushanbe was conducted in "hybrid mode".
Leaders of India, China and Russia were represented by their Foreign Ministers at the Dushanbe summit while the heads of the states of the rest of the member states attended in-person.
"I do not want to say that online summits are not full-fledged, but still, direct communication between leaders is a different quality of discussion,” Denisov said.
"One way or another, there will be plenary sessions and various kinds of group meetings, and we are planning a serious, full-fledged meeting of our leaders with a detailed agenda, which we are now, in fact, working on with our Chinese partners," the Russian envoy said.
Iran was expected to be officially admitted into the SCO at the Samarkand summit.
If Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Xi attend the Samarkand summit, it will be the first time they may come face to face after their meeting at Brasilia on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) in 2019.
Since then relations between the two sides soured over the incursion by Chinese troops in Eastern Ladakh in May 2020, leading to a prolonged military standoff that is still unresolved.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area. So far, the two sides held 16 rounds of commanders-level talks to resolve the standoff.
After the Samarkand summit, India will take over the Presidency of the influential grouping of the SCO.
The first hint of Xi attending the SCO summit came from Kazakhstan on Tuesday when its foreign ministry official said the Chinese leader will visit the country on September 14, his first tour abroad in over two and half years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kazakhstan is the neighbour of Uzbekistan, which is hosting the SCO summit.
Myanmar was the last country Xi visited on January 17-18, 2020. Just days after his return, China announced the massive outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, which later spiralled into a massive global pandemic resulting in millions of deaths and misery around the world.
Since then Xi, 69, has not ventured out of China and has attended global events virtually. There were doubts whether he would attend the SCO summit to be held on September 15-16 as it takes place ahead of the key congress of the ruling Communist Party of China.
At the party congress, Xi is expected to receive a record third five-year term as Communist Party leader.
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