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India to host SCO Council of Heads of Government Meeting today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Highlights

India will host the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of Government Meeting in the virtual format today.

India will host the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of Government Meeting in the virtual format today. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu will chair the meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said, adding Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the event.

In a statement, the External Affairs Ministry (MEA) said, it will be the first time that a Summit-level Meeting will be held under India's Chairmanship since it gained full membership of the organization in 2017.

This Summit is held annually at the level of Prime Ministers of SCO and deals primarily with the trade and economic agenda of the organization. India assumed the Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on November 2, 2019, as per rotation from the previous Chair - Uzbekistan and will complete its year-long tenure on November 30, 2020.

SCO's importance for India

India considers the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an important regional organization to promote cooperation in the areas of peace, security, trade, economy and culture. India is committed to widening cooperation with SCO by playing a proactive, positive and constructive role in the organization. By chairing the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government, India hopes to further strengthen greater trade, economic and cultural cooperation within SCO by putting human beings at the centre of SCO activities and to foster greater peace and prosperity in the region. The MEA has said, we hope that India's initiatives will not only be helpful for the SCO Member States in overcoming the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic but will also signal its continued commitment to strengthening the organization.

Prime Ministers from the SCO Member States of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will attend the SCO meeting. Pakistan will be represented by the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Apart from the SCO Member States, the four Observer States of SCO will also participate- including the President of Afghanistan, the First Vice President of Iran, the Prime Minister of Belarus and the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia. Turkmenistan has been invited as a Special Guest of the Host and will be represented by the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers.

The SCO, formed in 2001 by five members, is seen as a counterweight to NATO. The organisation currently has eight members and four observers. India on June 9, 2017, gained its full membership. Earlier this year, the country had hosted the meeting of SCO Ministers responsible for External Economy and Foreign Trade on October 28, 2020, and the meeting of SCO Ministers for Justice on October 16, 2020, in the video-conference format.

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