Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Tashkent on Thursday afternoon to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. The bigger agenda of the trip, according to officials, is, however, his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit. The meeting comes even as India continues its strongest push till now for membership to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which is being blocked by China.
The meeting between Modi and Xi will be the latest in a string of high-profile exchanges between New Delhi and Beijing in recent weeks. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar has already visited Beijing last week to try and convince the Chinese and is presently in Seoul to see India's NSG bid through.
China, as of now, stands largely isolated within the NSG in its opposition to India's membership. However, PM Modi's meeting with Xi can be expected to push things further in India's favour. India has been lobbying strongly with the support of the US, which has thrown its weight behind it.
Even as PM Modi's meeting with Xi and India's NSG membership hog the limelight, India will also be taking a major step towards full membership of the SCO in Tashkent.
India, which has so far attended SCO meetings as an observer, is set to sign the Memorandum of Obligations and other key documents that will take it closer to full membership in the Eurasian political and economic forum. The SCO was founded in 1996 and presently has six members -- China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Pakistan will also move towards full membership of the SCO alongside India.