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Modi in Tashkent today to attend SCO summit

Modi in Tashkent today to attend SCO summit
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for Tashkent today to attend the annual summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which will kick off the process of India's accession to the grouping as a full-fledged member along with Pakistan.

The Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping today on the sidelines of the summit during which he is expected to seek China's support for India's bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership, which Beijing is opposed to.

The two-day annual plenary session of the NS G will begin in Seoul tomorrow during which India's application for membership of the elite nuclear trading club may come up for deliberation.

Asked at the media briefing whether the PM will discuss the NSG issue with Xi, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Sujata Mehta refused to give a direct answer but said usually a "full review" of the bilateral ties takes place on such occasions.

On India's SCO membership, Mehta   said, "The process of India's accession to the SCO will start with a signature on the base document which is called the Memorandum of Obligations."

Asked whether India will become a full member of the SCO, she said there was a schedule laid down for India to sign more than 30 other documents and it will happen as the year goes by.

 The Prime Minister will also have bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov.

 According to sources, India will attend the SCO summit as an acceding member but its speaking slot will be in the category of an observer.

On whether Modi will have a meeting with Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain, she said India does not even officially know who will represent Pakistan at the summit. At the same time, she said the Prime Minister will have a couple of other bilaterals.

Asked about Pakistan also getting membership of SCO, Mehta said India's membership of the SCO or any other bloc is not "predicated" by the absence of any country. She said India follows "flexible multilateralism" and it is quite happy to get involved in multiple processes in extending cooperation.

Mehta said the membership will provide India with an opportunity to have extended cooperation with members of the grouping including China and Pakistan.

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