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Xi, Modi Hold Bilateral Talks in China, Agree to Improve Ties

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Membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will strengthen India’s relations with Central Asia

In the meeting, the two leaders will take stock of the implementation of decisions taken at the informal summit just over a month ago in Wuhan.

Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi. In the wake of Washington's strained ties with both Russia and China, and Iran, officials said the SCO summit will provide an opportunity for President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to portray a common vision for the region and present the bloc as a powerful voice to deal with pressing global issues.

The Qingdao meeting will be, in comparison, a brief affair-they are set to meet for 30 to 45 minutes on Saturday evening, before Xi hosts a banquet for the visiting leaders of SCO member countries and observers.

Both sides also dwelt in detail on the trade relationship, with Modi flagging India's concerns over the widening deficit and calling for China to increase exports of Indian pharmaceuticals, rice and sugar, among other products.

"The first and foremost important consensus (reached at Wuhan) was that India and China are partners in progress and in economic development", Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale said in an interview to state media ahead of the SCO summit.

The Prime Minister's comments at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore were appreciated by China. Our cooperation is expanding.

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Modi said he would talk to leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's countries and discuss a "wide range of subjects" with them. Again, the target was apparent - China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

"No matter what country has terrorists, we must strengthen our regional cooperation and not allow them to affect regional security", he told a press conference Friday, adding that the SCO bloc had stopped "hundreds" of terrorist acts. The SCO has a rich agenda for cooperation, ranging from fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism to promoting cooperation in connectivity, commerce, customs, law, health and agriculture; protecting the environment and mitigating disaster risk; and fostering people-to-people relations.

India is expected to be the only country in the Qingdao declaration to not endorse the BRI, as was the case at the recent SCO foreign ministers meet where the final statement awkwardly named the ministers of all countries, barring India, in the part of the statement that named the BRI.

India enjoys deep friendship and multi-dimensional ties with the Member States of the SCO.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is also scheduled to attend the summit which will give leaders of India, Russia, China and other central Asian countries a chance to deliberate on the Iran nuclear deal.

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