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PM's statement prior to his departure to Qingdao in China

10 June, 2018, 08:15 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Pakistan       by Nozair Hanif Mirza | Published

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of the SCO Summit here and the two leaders reviewed the full range of bilateral ties, especially ways to boost economic and cultural links.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will head a new mechanism to oversee people-to-people contacts, and will soon meet to discuss details.

Though not officially on the agenda, analysts say that one key topic of discussion this year may focus on whether Iran will be allowed to ascend from its position as an SCO observer to become a full member state - a development it has sought since 2008 but has been unable to achieve while subject to United Nations sanctions. Agreeing that Pakistan-China relations are a pillar of stability, the two presidents reiterated their resolve to maintain close engagement on all issues of regional and global importance.

Luo said it was the 14th meeting between the two leaders over past four years. Modi also said that an "Asia of rivalry" will hold the region back while an Asia of cooperation will shape the current century.

To that end, one of the agreements signed on Saturday amended the 2006 protocol on phytosanitary requirements for exporting rice from India to include the export of non-basmati varieties of rice. It also enables the Chinese side to provide hydrological data if water level exceeds mutually agreed level during non-flood season.

India has been strongly pushing for connectivity projects like the Chabahar port project and International North-South Transport Corridor to gain access to resource-rich central Asian countries.

On the trade front, New Delhi agreed to the Chinese President's request to allow opening of a Bank of China branch in Mumbai, while China said it will let Indian pharmaceutical companies register for high-quality pharma products in the Chinese market and to allow India to export non-Basmati rice to China.

President Xi said their Wuhan meeting had been well received by both countries and the worldwide community, and a positive atmosphere is taking shape to pay close attention to and support the development of China-India relations. Xi said China will encourage Indian companies to register in China for exports.

"On Afghanistan, there was a brief discussion on the projects". The first meeting of the new mechanism would be held this year, Gokhale said.

Modi arrived in Qingdao on a two-day visit to attend the annual SCO summit.

Citing Afghanistan as an "unfortunate example" of effect of terrorism, Modi said he hoped the fearless steps towards peace taken by President Ashraf Ghani will be respected by all in the region, apparently referring to a cease-fire announced by the Afghan leader for the Eid festival.

The two leaders agreed to maintain strategic communications and meet on the sidelines of worldwide meetings.

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