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Modi leaves Thursday for SCO summit in Tashkent, to meet Chinese president 

New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for Tashkent on Thursday to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit with India set to become a member of the China-led grouping. Modi is also to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines during which he is expected to take up India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit will be held in Tashkent from June 23-24.

The decision on India’s admission to the six-member bloc was taken last year at Ufa, Russia.

Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said that at the upcoming Summit, 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.

“The Prime Minister goes to Tashkent tomorrow (Thursday) for the SCO Summit. The SCO Summit kicks off with a gala dinner and a cultural programme. He will be meeting the present chair of the SCO President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan tomorrow,” Mehta added.

The SCO is a regional grouping comprising China, Russia and four Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

At the summit, for the first time, the SCO will be expanded to accommodate new countries and make them permanent members of the group. Both India and Pakistan are to be made members. Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia are observers at the SCO.

Membership of the SCO will give a fillip to India’s energy cooperation with the Central Asian members.

Apart from Jinping, Modi will also meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit.

Asked if India’s membership of the NSG will figure in the meeting with Jinping, Mehta said: “I really won’t be able to tell you what will be discussed. There is full review of bilateral agenda.”

China had said on Wednesday that India’s entry into the bloc was not on the agenda of the Seoul plenary as New Delhi is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Mehta said India’s association with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) dates back to 2005 when New Delhi attended as an observer for the first time.

“The issue of expanding the SCO was decided by the group in 2010. A decision on actually expanding the SCO was taken by the SCO in 2014, and in the same year we applied to join it as a member,” Mehta added.

The prime minister will return to the country on Friday, Mehta said.

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