Presidents of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on Friday will participate in a joint session of the SCO Heads of State Council.
Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told journalists that the meeting in Ufa would also be attended by leaders of five observer states - Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan - alongside Turkmenistan’s president, who would join the event as a guest of the host country.
Among those invited are also representatives of international organisations: the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as heads of the SCO Business Council and Interbank Association.
Over the past two days, Ufa, capital of Russia's Bashkortostan Republic, has turned into a centre of global economic and political life. The SCO Heads of State Council meeting follows a two-day summit of the BRICS group of emerging market nations. Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa discussed most pressing economic and financial issues, coordinated further interaction and harmonised positions on joint projects. Friday’s summit is expected to focus mainly on political, social and security issues.
The Seventh BRICS Summit and the 15th meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council are being held in Ufa from July 8 to July 10 under Russia's rotating presidency of both groups.
Last September, Russia took over the presidency of the SCO bloc, listing among key priorities forming common approaches towards regional and global problems and expanding cooperation with international organisations. The SCO Heads of State Council is also expected to discuss the need to boost cultural ties, intensify youth exchanges and develop tourism.
The presidents will coordinate procedures for India’s and Pakistan’s accession to the SCO. The two nations, which have observer status in the organisation together with Mongolia, Iran and Afghanistan, submitted applications for full membership last year. Iran also seeks to become a full-fledged member. Besides, the six-nation bloc has received applications for observer or dialogue partner status from several countries, such as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Bangladesh, Sri-Lanka, Syria, Ukraine, Maldives, Cambodia and Egypt.
After the summit, the sides are due to approve a strategy of the SCO development up to 2025. The document addresses issues of regional security and a prompt response to emerging challenges and threats, alongside development of transport and infrastructure, energy, agriculture, finance, education, information and communication technology, innovation and environment.
There are also plans to sign a declaration outlining member states’ consolidated approaches to further development of the organisation and key international and regional issues, as well as statements by heads of state in connection with the 70th anniversary of victory over fascism in World War Two and on countering the drug threat. The presidents will sign an agreement on cooperation and coordination on border issues and approve a programme of cooperation in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism in the next three years.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, completing a "marathon" of similar talks with presidents of countries participating in the BRICS and SCO summits and their guests.
The Russian leader will meet Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov and Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani. This will be Putin’s first meeting with Ghani since he won the presidential election in Afghanistan in September last year, the Kremlin said.
Putin also plans to hold talks with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This meeting is aimed at giving fresh impetus to development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Other issues on the agenda include Russia’s assistance in strengthening Pakistan's capacity to fight terrorism. Earlier this week, the Kremlin said that Moscow and Islamabad were holding talks on supplying Mi-35 transport and attack helicopters to Pakistan which will be used in counter-terror operations in the country’s south-west.