Connectivity with neighbourhood India’s priority, says PM Modi at SCO summit

Noting that only 6% of foreign tourists in India come from Shanghai Cooperation Organisation countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says this can easily be doubled.

QINGDAO: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said connectivity with the neighbourhood and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) region was India's priority as he stressed that his country was committed to extend full cooperation to a successful outcome of the Summit.

Speaking at the restricted session of the SCO Summit, Prime Minister Modi also floated the concept of SECURE: ‘S' for security for citizens, ‘E' for economic development, ‘C' for connectivity in the region, ‘U' for unity, ‘R' for respect of sovereignty and integrity, and ‘E for environment protection.

"We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighbourhood and in the SCO region is our priority," Modi said.

It is for the first time an Indian prime minister is attending the SCO summit after India along with Pakistan became a full-fledged member of the grouping, jointly dominated by China and Russia.

Noting that only 6% of foreign tourists in India come from SCO countries, the prime minister said this can easily be doubled.

"Increasing awareness of our shared cultures can help boost this number.We will organise a SCO food festival and a Buddhist festival in India," he said.

Citing Afghanistan as an "unfortunate example" of effect of terrorism, Modi said he hoped the brave steps towards peace taken by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani will be respected by all in the region, apparently referring to a cease-fire announced by the Afghan leader for the Eid festival.

The SCO has eight member countries which represent around 42% of the world's population and 20% of the global GDP.

Besides Modi, other leaders attending the summit include Chinese President Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain.

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its members last year.

 

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PTI