PM Modi to hold a bilateral meeting with Xi Jinping, Putin at SCO meet.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a two-day visit to the Kyrgyzstan capital from June 13, for his first multilateral engagement, the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The Ministry of External Affairs in a briefing on Monday confirmed that PM Modi will be attending a bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the SCO summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, one with Russian President Vladimir Putin and another with Kyrgyzstan.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “To the best of my knowledge, no bilateral meeting is being planned between Indian and Pakistan prime ministers at the SCO summit in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.”

Both India and Pakistan were formally inducted into the SCO in 2017. The membership came after assurances from both the countries to Russia and China that difficulties in relations between New Delhi and Islamabad would not impact this multilateral grouping.

Interestingly, Pakistan recently opened its airspace for the then External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, when she had to travel to Bishkek for the foreign minister-level meeting. The airspace was shut after the Balakot strikes.

There are reports that India has got the permission for the landing of PM Modi’s flight on June 13 and Islamabad. Underplaying the developments, Gitesh Sarma, secretary (West), remained evasive and said, “Difficult for us to discuss technical details of PM’s flight to Bishkek for SCO.”

Speaking on whether the issue of airspace shutdown, that has affected many Indians, could come up at SCO, Raveesh Kumar said, “I can’t say whether the PM will raise the issue of Pakistan blocking air connectivity at SCO.” While sources said that PM Modi might fly over Pakistani air space.

At the SCO, India would look at engaging with Central Asia multilaterally – focus on the issue of counter terrorism, separatism, extremism, connectivity in the region and Afghanistan. The SCO represents 43 per cent of the world’s population, 22 per cent of the world’s area and 20 per cent of its GDP.

Meanwhile, China on Monday “hoped” that President Xi Jinping and PM Modi would discuss their respective trade frictions with the U.S. and the two good friends could reach a consensus on opposing trade protectionism during their very important meeting during the SCO summit in Bishkek this week.

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