New Delhi [India], July 5 (ANI): India has again opted out of supporting China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), becoming the only country in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) refusing to endorse the project.
The New Delhi Declaration after the conclusion of the summit, which took place on Tuesday under India's chairmanship, stated that Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan reaffirmed their support to the BRI.
The SCO summit concluded under India's presidency earlier in the day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and heads of state of other SCO nations virtually took part in the event.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Delhi Declaration stated, "Reaffirming their support for China's "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI) initiative, the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Russian Federation, Republic of Tajikistan and Republic of Uzbekistan note the ongoing work to jointly implement this project, including efforts to link the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union and BRI."
"They spoke in favour of implementing the Roadmap for gradual increase in the share of national currencies in mutual settlements by the interested Member States," the statement also said.
India has earlier as well refused to support Xi Jinping's flagship programme for trade and connectivity. During the previous SCO meets as well, India has not changed its stance on the BRI and has become the country not to endorse the project.
"The Member States intend to broaden and deepen cooperation for sustainable socio-economic development and to improve the well-being and living standards of the people in the SCO region," the SCO New Delhi Declaration said, adding, "They consider it important to ensure the implementation of the SCO Economic Development Strategy 2030 adopted by interested Member States, other joint programmes and projects aimed at promoting cooperation in such priority areas."
Meanwhile, virtually addressing the SCO meeting of heads of state on Tuesday, Xi reiterated Beijing's stand of enhancing BRI and talked about "high-quality Belt and Road cooperation" with development strategies of various countries and regional cooperation initiatives, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Addressing the 23rd SCO summit, Xi Jinping said, "Efforts should be made to further promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, speed up the development of port infrastructure and regional and international logistic corridors, and ensure stable and smooth functioning of regional industrial and supply chains".
"Ten years ago, I proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, and on its tenth anniversary, China will hold the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
However, India has said that although connectivity is very important, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the countries should be respected.
"Prime Minister clearly said in his remarks that connectivity is important for SCO member states. But connectivity has to be respectful of sovereignty and territorial integrity. India's position on the BRI has been clear," Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said while addressing the briefing of the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday.
The summit, chaired by Modi, was joined by Chinese President Xi Jinping, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other leaders of the grouping.
India's chairmanship of SCO has been a period of intense activity and mutually beneficial cooperation between Member States. India has hosted a total of 134 meetings and events, including 14 Ministerial-level meetings. India remains committed to playing a positive and constructive role in the organization and looks forward to a successful SCO Summit as the culmination of its Chairmanship.
The rotational presidency remains with India until September 2023. (ANI)
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