India strikes river, rice deals with China as relations thaw

Membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will strengthen India’s relations with Central Asia

Briefing the media after the two leaders held talks for almost an hour on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the meeting was "positive and forward looking and underpinned the spirit of the Wuhan summit".

"On 9th and 10th June, I will be in Qingdao, China to take part in the annual SCO Summit". He was in the Chinese city of Wuhan on April 27 and 28 to attend an informal summit with President Xi Jinping.

President Xi Jinping appreciated Pakistan for its proactive participation in SCO since becoming a member. Before leaving for China, the prime minister said he was "excited to lead the Indian delegation for our first-ever meeting as a full member". Officials said India will pitch for evolving effective ways to deal with the growing challenge of terrorism and enhancing security cooperation among SCO countries.

The summit in this Chinese port city is taking place under the shadow of Washington's pull out from the Iran nuclear deal, its sanction regime against Russian Federation and frictions with China over the trade tariff dispute and diplomats said all these issues may figure at the summit as well as during deliberations on its sidelines. Over the past years, SCO member states have jointly made achievements in deterring terrorist attacks and arresting members of worldwide terrorist organisations, he said. We had detailed discussions on bilateral and global issues.

Sharing some aspects of the almost 50-minute meeting, the foreign secretary said Xi described the Wuhan summit as a "new starting point" in bilateral relations between the two countries while prime minister called it as a "milestone" in ties which will help in developing mutual understanding and trust.

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The two leaders reviewed the full range of bilateral ties, especially ways to boost economic and cultural links between the two countries.

India is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence. India favours projects such as the International North-South Transport Corridor for greater access to the central Asia region.

The president also plans to hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan, and a tripartite meeting with the presidents of China and Mongolia.

"(Modi) also conveyed to President Xi Jinping our readiness to permit the Bank of China to establish a branch office in Mumbai", Gokhale said. China is gambling its diplomatic credibility on the chance it can facilitate better relations between India and Pakistan at the SCO summit.

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