(HOLD) Krishna leaves for SCO summit in China
New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) With India increasingly looking to Central Asia for its energy security needs, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna left Tuesday for Beijing, where he will pitch for a bigger role for New Delhi in the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Krishna will also hold bilateral talks Wednesday with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi during which they are are expected to review the progress of some of key initiatives like firming up the contours of a maritime dialogue.
Krishna is accompanied by senior officials of the external affairs ministry, including Syed Akbaruddin, the ministry spokesperson, and Ajay Bisaria, joint secretary in charge of the Eurasia region in the ministry.
Beijing is hosting the 12th SCO summit June 6-7, which is expected to map out the future of this influential organization that brings together Russia and China, the two permanent members of the UN Security Council, and the energy-rich Central Asian states, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia are currently observers in the SCO.
At the summit, Krishna is expected to underline the importance of the SCO region for India's energy and security and pitch for an enhanced role for New Delhi in the grouping which is traditionally dominated by Russia and China.
India has been seeking full membership in the SCO for some time, but opinion is divided among Russia and China, the two giants of the SCO, on this issue.
While Russia has backed full membership of India in the SCO, China says that those desirous of joining the SCO have to work harder to satisfy strict criteria for the membership.
A decision on including India and expanding membership of the grouping is, therefore, unlikely to be taken at the Beijing summit. Against this backdrop, Krishna, said sources, will pitch for an expanded role for observers in the SCO, specially in areas of counter-terrorism and the discussions on Afghanistan.
India is keen on participating in counter-terror exercises and seek closer partnership the SCO's Tashkent-based Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure (RCTS), said the sources. Other SCO activities India is interested in participating include the meeting of trade ministers and the SCO's discussions on the situation in Afghanistan that has acquired added traction in view of the phased withdrawal of the international coalition's troops from that country.
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