India on Friday said its decision to hold the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the virtual format was taken considering a number of factors.
Replying to a question on the issue during his weekly media briefing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi noted that India did not make any announcement in the past it would be an in-person summit.
The MEA on Tuesday announced that India will host the annual summit of the SCO in the virtual format on July 4. While making the announcement, it did not cite any reason behind the decision.
India is hosting the summit in its capacity as the current chair of the SCO.
Bagchi said many international summits in recent years have taken place in the virtual format and it was decided to hold the SCO summit in that mode taking into consideration various factors.
He, however, did not mention the factors.
He said the decision was not driven by a single factor.
"We have now communicated to the SCO partners about this event being held in virtual format on July 4 and our expectation is that everybody would be able to join," Bagchi said.
India hosted the foreign ministers of the SCO at a two-day conclave in Goa earlier this month.
The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.
The MEA said heads of six international and regional organisations have also been invited to the summit.
The organisations are the UN, the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union) and CICA (Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia).
India was made an observer at the SCO in 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping, which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.
India has shown a keen interest in deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
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