This era not of war, PM Narendra Modi tells Vladimir Putin at SCO meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in Ukraine soon, saying “today’s era is not of war” even as he called for finding ways to address the global food and energy security crisis.

In a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Modi also underlined the importance of “democracy, dialogue and diplomacy” while calling for an early cessation of hostilities in Ukraine.

“Today the biggest worry before the world, especially developing countries, is food security, fuel security, fertilisers. We must find ways on these problems and you will also have to consider it. We will get an opportunity to talk about these issues,” he said in his opening remarks.

On his part, Putin told Modi that he was aware of India’s concerns over the Ukraine conflict and that Russia would do everything possible to end it as soon as possible. “I know about your position on the conflict in Ukraine. I know about your concerns. I know that you share these concerns and we all want an end to all of these as soon as possible,” Putin said.

It was the first in-person meeting between the two leaders after the Ukraine conflict began in February.

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Earlier, Modi called for the member nations to build resilient supply chains in the wake of the Covid pandemic, at the 22nd SCO Summit on Thursday. He stressed that greater connectivity among nations in the central Asian region and other member nations like India would be needed to achieve this.

“The pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine have caused many disruptions in global supply chains, leaving the world facing unprecedented energy and food crises. The SCO should strive to develop reliable, resilient and diversified supply chains in our region. For this, better connectivity will be required,” Modi said. He said it would also be important that the SCO nations give full rights of transit to each other, in an apparent reference to Pakistan, which has periodically denied India the right to fly through its airspace.

The PM attended two leaders’ sessions on September 16. The first session consisted of the SCO members — India, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — and saw discussions on issues of mutual interest, including security and economic cooperation in the region, officials said. The other session saw extended participation of the six SCO dialogue partners.

The session also saw India assuming the rotational presidency of the SCO for a year, with the 23rd SCO Summit set to be held in India in 2023. Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated India on assuming the presidency and offered his country’s support to it. “We will support India for its presidency next year,” Jinping said, according to reports by news agency ANI.

The summit is expected to finalise the ‘Samarkand declaration’ and other documents.

India’s start-up story

Modi also pitched India’s burgeoning start-up ecosystem at the summit. “We are supporting innovation in every sector. There are over 70,000 start-ups in India today, of which over 100 are unicorns. This experience of ours can be of use to many other SCO members as well. For this purpose, we are ready to share our experience with the member countries of SCO by establishing a new Special Working Group on Startups and Innovation,” he said.

The SCO council of heads of governments deals with trade, economy and the cultural agenda of the grouping. During India’s chairmanship of the council in 2020, the Modi government had shaped the first forums on startups, MSMEs and young scientists.

The Prime Minister said India is making progress in turning the country into a manufacturing hub. “India’s young and talented workforce makes us naturally competitive. India’s economy is expected to grow at 7.5 per cent this year, which will be the highest among the world’s major economies,” he said.

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