India stays away as SCO members reaffirm support for China’s Belt and Road project at virtual meet

New Delhi: Barring India, all other member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Monday reaffirmed their support to China's ambitious 'One Belt and One Road' (OBOR) project during a virtual meeting of the influential grouping.

India has been severely critical of the mega project as the US $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of the OBOR, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

A joint communique, issued at the end of the 19th meeting of the Council of Heads of Governments of the SCO, said Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan reaffirming their support for the OBOR initiative.

The virtual summit was hosted by India and it was chaired by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.

Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said the SCO member states of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan attended today's meeting at the level of prime ministers. He said Pakistan was represented by its parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs.

"The Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan, reaffirming their support for China's 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR) Initiative," the communique said.

India has been maintaining that it cannot accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China had unveiled the OBOR initiative in 2013 with an aim to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

The SCO is an eight-nation bloc which is being increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO. India and Pakistan became permanent members of the SCO in 2017.

The joint communique also said the initiative of Russia to create a greater Eurasian partnership with the participation of the countries of the SCO, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other interested states and multilateral associations was noted.

It said the Heads of delegations emphasised the relevance of promoting and expanding cooperation between the SCO member states in the field of infrastructural connectivity and the creation of a modern transport infrastructure.

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