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China and Russia see SCO as peace platform for India and Pakistan

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain at the SCO “of great historic significance”.

China and Russia are proposing that the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) can become a peace platform to resolve India-Pakistan differences.

In an interview with state broadcaster CGTN, Chinese foreign minister and state councilor Wang Yi said that the SCO, which has been expanded with the inclusion of India and Pakistan, could provide a “better platform” to resolve the bitter feud between New Delhi and Islamabad of over seven decades.

“We know that there are unresolved historical conflicts existing between Pakistan and India. But I think after their joining the SCO, maybe we can provide a better platform and opportunities for the building of relations between them.”

He added: “I feel the SCO serves a great vehicle for bettering the two nations’ relations. As a result it will better safeguard the peace and stability of the region although their relations have seen their ups and downs.”

Mr. Wang stressed that India and Pakistan must not “see each other as opponents and much less enemies”. He pointed out that ahead of their membership, New Delhi and Islamabad signed several “agreements” and “pledges”.

“By signing these agreements they demonstrated a responsibility for implementing them.”

On Sunday Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain at the SCO “of great historic significance”. “More member states means greater strength of the organisation as well as greater attention and expectations of people of regional countries and the international community,” Mr. Xi observed.

In a separate interview with CGTN, Russian President Vladimir Putin hoped that the SCO forum can provide India and Pakistan an opportunity to resolve their differences in a “multilateral format”. He was

optimistic that “all countries of the region will use this platform for in-depth work in a multilateral format and resolve their differences”.

At Qingdao, India too appeared to soften its position towards Pakistan, which it has often accused of spearheading global terrorism.

Official sources on Sunday declined to single out Pakistan as a primary source of international terrorism. “Pakistan is not the only country responsible for terrorism,” an Indian official who did not

wish to be named said. Asked if India’s position on Islamabad had shifted since the September summit in Xiamen, where Pakistan based groups had been named in the joint BRICS statement, the official said

that “the SCO format was very different from BRICS, of which India was a founding member”.

A diplomatic source told The Hindu that India was exploring the possibility of connectivity to Central Asia through the Pakistan-Afghan corridor, under the SCO framework.

In a search for a distinct identity for the grouping, the SCO is digging into the region’s eastern roots to find ideological answers to the divisive wave of anti-globalisation rising from the West.

Prime Minister Modi cited Buddha, Rumi, and Confucius among the region’s icons that have defined an inclusive identity for today’s SCO.

In an obvious reference to the America-first doctrine of the Trump administration, Chinese President Xi Jinping extolled Confucian values of harmony and mutual respect to counter the headwinds of protectionism and inward-looking geopolitics.

On Saturday, President Xi sought to link Confucianism’s emphasis on “unity and harmony” with the “Shanghai Spirit” of plurality, mutual respect and inclusivity.

At a press conference on Sunday, he asserted that SCO members will uphold the authority and efficacy of WTO rules, strengthen an open, inclusive, transparent, non-discriminatory and rules-based multilateral trading regime, and oppose trade protectionism of any form.

“We point out that economic globalisation and regional integration are the compelling trend of our times,” Mr. Xi said.

The Hindu

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