Power Minister Shri Sushilkumar Shinde represented India at the annual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of Government in St. Petersburg on 7th November 2011. Making a statement on behalf of India, Shri Shinde called for breaking barriers that inhibit trade and investment flows between the countries in the SCO zone. He said SCO should address the problem of limited connectivity through regional solutions. He said that India was ready to cooperate to find viable solutions to this problem and contribute to the endeavour to build bridges between Central and South Asia.

Drawing attention to the challenges faced by the world economy, Shri Shinde said that there was a very real danger of a spillover of the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone to the rest of the world. He said that in a globally interconnected world, the SCO region could not remain unaffected by such developments. The Minister added that as nations deal with the short term problems of instability, they must also face the challenge of engineering a broad-based recovery and sustainable growth both in industrialized and developing economies. He said that the SCO countries are strengthened by the complementarities of their resources and must find the most suitable path to growth for themselves.

Expressing satisfaction over Afghanistan being a regular participant in the SCO forum, the Minister stated that the role of Afghanistan has recently been rightly recognised as a bridge connecting not just Central and South Asia, but also Eurasia and the Middle East. He said the SCO provides a promising regional platform, where members, observers and particularly Afghanistan itself, should have the opportunity to shape the agenda of peace and stability in the region.

Welcoming the adoption of SCO`s regulations for entry of new members at the Astana Summit this year, Shri Shinde emphasized that India would be happy to play a larger, wider, more constructive and active role in the SCO as a full member as and when the organisation finalises expansion modalities.

On the sidelines of the forum, Shri Shinde met the Second Vice President of Afghanistan Mohammad Karim Khalilli and discussed issues of bilateral cooperation. Shri Shinde also had informal interactions with Prime Minister Putin of Russia, Prime Minister Wen of China, Prime Minister Gilani of Pakistan and other leaders.

The meeting hosted by Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin was attended by Heads of Governments and representatives of the member states of the SCO, (namely, Russia, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan). India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia are observer states while Afghanistan is a ‘Special Invitee’ at the forum. SCO has two level meetings in a year- the Heads of State Summit and the Heads of Government Summit. India regularly attends both meetings at a high level.


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