India strikes river, rice deals with China as relations thaw

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

Modi arrived here on Saturday afternoon for a two-day visit to attend the annual SCO Summit.

The SCO meeting comes after President Donald Trump controversially pulled Washington out of the 2015 global pact with Iran that placed limits on its nuclear programme in return for easing economic sanctions.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed the agreement as they began the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will open late Saturday a two-day regional security summit attended by Russia, Iran and other allies confronting rising tensions with the USA over trade and Washington's withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Russia, Iran and other allies confronting rising tensions with the U.S. over trade and Washington's withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal will be in attendance. Iran is an observer member.

The Chinese President welcomed Pakistan's representation in the Organization as a member.

"With 8 members, SCO represents approximately 42 percent of the world's population, 22 percent of the land area and 20 percent of the GDP".

Participants at the summit will discuss about issues including information security, combating cross-border crime and the formation of permanent bodies to ensure law enforcement and security, he said. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said last week, "The Qingdao Summit will lay out new plans to enhance the synergy of development strategies of member states, especially promoting the construction of the Belt and Road to lift regional economic cooperation".

The SCO leaders are also expected to review the situation in the Korean peninsula, Afghanistan and Syria.

The summit in this eastern Chinese port city is taking place under the shadow of Washington's pull out from the Iran nuclear deal, its sanctions regime against Russian Federation, and frictions with China over the trade tariffs.

Regional security issues will also feature, because terrorism is the most severe security challenge facing the SCO, according to Liao Jinrong, head of the Chinese ministry of public security's global cooperation department.

The SCO was set up by China in 2001 for political, economic and security cooperation amongst Eurasian countries and now includes Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

"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 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that China will buy 6.4 million tonnes of rice in 2018, while India will export a total of 11.9 million tonnes.

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