The Wuhan summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April could certainly contribute to an enhanced understanding in forums like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an Indian former foreign secretary said to Xinhua recently.
India and China share a multi-faceted relationship that has grown significantly over decades, and the informal Wuhan summit between the two countries demonstrated the maturity and resilience of the relationship,diplomatic veteran Nirupama Menon Rao said in an exclusive interview.
Modi is scheduled to go to China again for the 18th SCO summit in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao in June.
India was allowed SCO membership only last year along with Pakistan. This would be the first occasion when both countries attend an SCO summit as full-fledged members.
The SCO is a "viable" regional organization with "definite potential" to enhance cooperation among its members in security, trade, culture and education, said Nirupama, who worked in Beijing as India's first woman ambassador from October 2006 to July 2009.
"Its record so far has been relatively modest, but any regional cooperation organization, going by examples from other areas of the world, takes time to evolve and acquire optimal dimensions of achievement. Consensus-building among members should be emphasized," she added.
According to her, much work needs to be done within the SCO framework in areas like energy and trade, as well as diplomacy to enhance mutual understanding and manage sensitive issues of member countries.
As to India's expectations from the Qingdao summit, Nirupama outlined New Delhi's priorities such as greater connectivity with the region, stronger actions against terrorism and extremism, enhancing energy security, environmental protection, sustainable development, improving livelihood with modern technology, youth exchanges, protecting cultural diversity, and respect for sovereignty.
Suggesting ways on how China could further promote the SCO mechanism in global governance, she said all ideas for deepening and expanding the group's effectiveness should be discussed among all the members.
The former diplomat said India endorses major SCO principles such as mutual respect, trust, equality and win-win cooperation, which echoes the "Shanghai Spirit" of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development.
Noting India's links and ties with Central Asian countries, Russia and China, Nirupama said, "India's willingness to contribute to the vision and the spirit of the SCO should never be in doubt."