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Astana Lays Out The Red Carpet for SCO Summit

Astana, the capital of the Central Asian State of Kazaksthan, is all set  for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, which begins here on Wednesday.

India will be represented by External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, following the decision of Prime Minister to excuse himself citing the first session of the new parliament in India.

Apart from the  banners welcoming the leaders of the nine member states, observers and guests, there was also a very visible security presence, with police cars dotting almost every interesection.

“the safety and security measures for the upcoming event have got no precedent. They even recomended  Astana residents to either stay put home, or even leave the city for the summit period,” said a former senior bureaucrat.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived a day early on a State visit, and is expected to continue to Tajikstan also on a state visit after the SCO summit concludes on Thursday.   Xi, accompanied by foreign minister Wang Yi, the Director of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party Cai Qi and other senior officials, was welcomed at the airport by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to arrive either late tueday or early morning Wednesday, with officials declining to give the exact time citing security reasons.

Other leaders expected to attend the summit include Un Secretary general Antonio Gutteres, and Tukiish president tayyip Ergogan.

The summit, to be held at Astan’s grand palace of independence, will see the induction of Belarus as its 10th full member, and Presidents Xi and Putin are expected to to use the SCO to expand on a shared blueprint for Eurasia.

Economic cooperation is the main focus in Astana. Sources said there will initiatives at reducing trade barriers, and other steps to promote investments across member states. President Xi’s grand flagship scheme, The Belt and Road Initiative is also likely to be highlighted as part of this.

“Overall, we look forward to a very fruitful and productive summit, with far reaching impact,” a Kazakh official said.
Ramananda Sengupta
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