MOSCOW, June 8. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin is travelling to Astana on Thursday where a two-day summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member-countries is opening. It will focus on the SCO development, the fight against terrorism and the situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan, while the central event is the formal accession of India and Pakistan as the organization’s full-fledged members.
The Russian president’s visit will begin with bilateral meetings. After arriving in Astana, Putin will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. According to Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov, the meeting between the two leaders will be fairly brief, since they are to have large-scale negotiations in less than a month. Xi Jinping will pay a visit to Moscow on July 3-4.
Nevertheless, the agenda of Thursday’s meeting is quite extensive. "Attention (at the meeting) will be given to cooperation between the two countries within the SCO. It is also obvious that they will raise the issue of the situation on the Korean Peninsula," Ushakov said, adding that the two leaders could discuss other issues as well, including regional and international.
The meeting will be the first one for Putin on the sidelines of this summit. On Friday he will have talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Other meetings are not ruled out as well, the Kremlin aide noted.
The Russian presidential aide mentioned the SCO development, the fight against terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East among the main issues on the agenda. "The SCO summit will traditionally begin with the (leaders’) meeting to discuss the documents to be signed, the current state and priorities for further improving practical cooperation along with regional and international problems," Ushakov said. "Terrorism is one of the main topics, including in the context of the activities of the SCO regional anti-terrorist structure."
He added that the SCO leaders would discuss in detail the situation in Afghanistan. "The situation there tends to deteriorate, the ISIL (former name of the Islamic State terror group outlawed in Russia - TASS) has consolidated its positions," the Kremlin aide stated. He added that Russia will call for stepping up the activities of the SCO regional anti-terrorist structure.
Another important issue to be brought up at the summit is the accession of India and Pakistan, which will become the organization’s full-fledged member-countries. Ushakov noted the great significance of this event, stressing that after these two countries join the SCO, the organization’s space will make up about 23% of all land on our planet. The population of its member-countries will reach 45% of the world population, and its GDP - 25%.
Ushakov noted that the issue of Iran, which is also seeking SCO membership, will be discussed at the summit too. "We believe there is every premise to consider this application positively," he told reporters.
He noted though that one should expect no breakthrough in this issue at the upcoming summit. "There are some nuances in the stances of a number of countries, and these nuances will obviously be discussed," he emphasized. "Therefore, I do not expect any big changes at the upcoming summit. Nevertheless, we believe this issue needs to be resolved sooner or later, the sooner the better."
According to the Kremlin aide, the SCO chairmanship will be transferred from Kazakhstan to China at the summit. China is expected to host the next meeting of the SCO member-countries’ leaders in the summer of 2018.
A total of 11 documents are planned to be signed at the summit. Specifically, the leaders are to adopt a statement on the joint fight against international terrorism. The Astana Declaration will become another important document.
"It will reflect consolidated approaches of the member-countries to the SCO’s further development, agreed assessments on key international issues," the Kremlin aide said. "In particular, it will point to the need of creating a more equitable, polycentric world order that would meet the interests of all states and rely on international law, the principles of mutual respect and consideration of each other’s interests, mutually beneficial cooperation, renunciation of confrontation and conflicts, equal and indivisible security."
The SCO member-countries’ leaders are also planning to approve the SCO Convention on countering extremism. In addition to that, two decisions will be made on India’s and Pakistan’s accession to the SCO. The heads of state will approve a report on the SCO’s performance in 2016 and a report of the council of the regional anti-terrorist structure.
Also on June 9, the leaders will have a reception, after which Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. On the same day, the head of state will attend the opening ceremony of EXPO-2017.