SCO summit: PM Modi speaks of 'respecting territorial integrity'

In a stern message to China and Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the SCO summit on Tuesday said there should be respect for each others’ sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In his speech at the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, held virtually, Modi also hit out at those making repeated attempts to “unnecessarily” bring bilateral issues to the SCO in violation of the bloc’s foundational principles, in an oblique reference to Pakistan raising the Kashmir issue in its past meetings.

The Prime Minister made the comments in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top leaders of the influential grouping. Putin chaired the summit.

This is for the first time Modi and Xi have come face-to-face, albeit virtually, since the border standoff between India and China began in eastern Ladakh in early May.

“India believes that to enhance connectivity, it is important that we move forward by following the core principle of respecting each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Modi said while referring to New Delhi’s involvement in International North South Corridor project, development of the Chabahar port and Ashgabat agreement.

The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode transport project for moving freight among India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

“India has always been resolute in working in sync with principles laid out in the SCO charter. But it is unfortunate that there have been repeated efforts to unnecessarily bring bilateral issues in the SCO agenda which is in violation of the SCO spirit,” he said.

In his address, the Prime Minister also delved into a number of key issues like the threat of terrorism, long-pending reform of the United Nations and the  need for concerted efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its adverse impact on global economy.  “India strongly believes in peace, security and prosperity, and we have always voiced opposition to terrorism, illegal arms smuggling, drugs and money laundering,” Modi said. Referring to COVID-19, Modi said India will use its capacity in production and distribution of vaccines to help the entire humanity in fighting the pandemic.