Need To Respect Sovereignty And Territorial Integrity, Prime Minister Modi Says  At SCO Summit
Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, gestures as he delivers a speech in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Need To Respect Sovereignty And Territorial Integrity, Prime Minister Modi Says At SCO Summit

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In an oblique reference 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 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, hinting at Pakistan raising the Kashmir issue in its past meetings.

The remarks by Modi came in the backdrop of the Sino-India border row in eastern Ladakh and China's contentious Belt and Road connectivity project, as also Pakistan's support to cross-border terrorism against India.

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 NorthSouth Transport Corridor is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode transport project for moving freight among India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

Ashgabat agreement is a transport agreement among several Gulf and Central Asian countries which is aimed at creating a transit corridor to spur trade and investment. India has been supporting the project.

"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.

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In mid-September, India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval walked out of a virtual meeting of top security officials of the SCO member states after the Pakistani representative projected a map that inaccurately depicted Kashmir.

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.

In this difficult time of the unprecedented epidemic, India's pharmaceutical industry sent essential medicines to over 150 countries, he said.

"India strongly believes that a combination of economic multilateralism and national capacity building can help the countries including in the SCO region recover from the economic losses caused by the pandemic," Modi said.

"I am confident that a self-reliant India will prove to be a force multiplier for the world economy and will trigger a momentum for economic development of the SCO countries," he said.

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The Prime Minister also talked about India hosting a summit of the council of heads of government of the SCO on Nov. 30 in the virtual format, and said an elaborate agenda is being prepared focussing on economic issues.

India has also proposed setting up working groups on innovation, start-up and traditional medicines, he said.

On United Nations reforms, he said though it completed 75 years of existence and achieved many successes, the main goal of the global body is still incomplete.

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