Modi, Imran exchange pleasantries during SCO Summit at Bishkek

The Hindu

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At the Summit, Mr. Modi hints at Pakistan role in backing terror.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan exchanged greetings during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. The informal exchange came in the backdrop of Mr. Modi’s strong pitch for a regional and global drive to eliminate terrorism.

“The Prime Minister exchanged usual pleasantries with the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan in the Leaders’ Lounge,” said a source.

However, the sources said, the interaction did not amount to a meeting or a “pull-aside” and was just an exchange of pleasantries. A similar “exchange of pleasantries” had taken place in Bishkek last month when the former External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, was seen in photographs with her Pakistan counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Friday’s exchange, though brief, is the first since the Pulwama terror attack, which led to a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two countries. Speaking to the news channel WION, Mr. Qureshi said Mr. Khan congratulated Mr. Modi on his election victory.

Earlier, addressing the summit , Mr. Modi hinted at Pakistan’s role in supporting terror elements and highlighted the importance of peace in Afghanistan for the overall security situation in the region. “Last Sunday during my trip to Sri Lanka, I visited St. Anthony’s church. There I was reminded of the hateful nature of terrorism that can destroy innocent lives anywhere in the world. There is a need to hold those countries that support terrorism, accountable,” said Mr. Modi, asking the member states to try coordinated action against international terrorism under the SCO-Regional Anti Terrorist Structure (RATS).

Prime Minister Modi urged the international community to look beyond narrow concerns and pitched for an international conference to fight terrorism. The issue also featured prominently in the Bishkek Declaration of the SCO Heads of State Council.

The Declaration condemned terrorism in all “forms and manifestations”.

The Bishkek Declaration urged the international community to encourage global cooperation to fight terrorism and “without politicisation and double 3 standards and with respect for the sovereignty and independence of all countries, as well as to work towards a consensus on adopting the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.”

The SCO summit also called for “prompt solution” for the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and urged the people and government of Afghanistan to act in favour of peace and dialogue to end the conflict. SCO also declared that the Republic of Uzbekistan is expected to host a Ministerial Meeting of the Eighth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VIII) in Tashkent in the second half of 2019.

The summit also signed a document titled ‘Roadmap for Further Action of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group. Apart from that the other agreements were on sports, mass media, coordination of humanitarian affairs, tourism, healthcare. A separate MoU was signed for establishment of Astana International Financial Centre.

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