8.7.15

SCO and India

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India on the verge of full membership of SCO, Putin tells Modi

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UFA: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday confirmed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India was on the verge of becoming a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a security grouping of Russia, China and four Central Asian countries, which is seen as a potential provider of security and peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

In a bilateral meeting with Modi ahead of the BRICS summit here, Putin told Modi the process for India's promotion to full membership of the organisation had already begun.

Pakistan is also expected to be inducted as a full member of the group along with India, sources said. India has long wanted to become a full member of SCO but its attempts have been thwarted by resistance from China. During Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India last year though, Beijing? promised to support India's candidature for full membership. Beijing, however, has also ensured that Pakistan too becomes a full member. Along with Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia, India and Pakistan currently have 'observer' status in the organisation.

"We are beginning the process of full-fledged inclusion of India into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization," ?Putin told Modi.

"Under your (Putin's) leadership in BRICS, India has become a member of SCO. I am very grateful," Modi responded.

Foreign secretary S Jaishankar said there was a fair amount of discussion over economic issues between the two countries, including the possibility of visa liberalization. He added that the two leaders also paid a lot of attention to civil nuclear cooperation, especially in the context of climate change. "The issue of connectivity and North-South regional transport corridor was also discussed," said Jaishankar.

In a lighter vein, Putin also told Modi that he found it difficult to do yoga after Modi thanked him for Russia's support to India's initiative for the UN to declare an International Day of Yoga.

"Yoga is one of the few things I haven't done yet, though it's hard to resist the attraction," Putin told Modi.

"I will see what I can do, given my level of sports fitness. When you look at real practitioners of yoga, they just seem to achieve an impossible level of perfection," he said.