<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an oblique reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today cautioned against rolling out connectivity projects without respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity. In an address at the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Modi, in presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping, said connectivity with countries of the region is a priority for India and that such projects should ensure inclusivity and sustainability. “Connectivity with SCO member countries is a priority for India and we whole heartedly support it. We want connectivity to pave way for enhancing cooperation and confidence among the societies and young people. Respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity is necessary. It is also important to ensure inclusivity and sustainability,” the Prime Minister said. India has been severely critical of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the pet project of Xi, as the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of the BRI, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). India says it cannot accept a project that ignores its core concern on sovereignty and territorial integrity. In his address, Xi referred to the “successful summit” on the BRI, also known as the ‘One Belt One Road Initiative’, in Beijing last month and said the SCO may serve as an important platform for the successful implementation of the project. The Chinese President also put forth a proposal on the need for a “long term treaty of good neighbourhood for the next 5 years” among the SCO members. Russian President Vladimir Putin also talked about the project and said such connectivity initiatives would boost trade and investment in the region. Hailing the BRI, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said such mega projects will benefit the entire SCO community. “The SCO’s expansion takes place at an opportune time, as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) transforms global economic landscape. And, in Pakistan, we are diligently implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the flagship of the BRI. What is more, these mega projects will benefit the entire SCO community,” he said. A number of other SCO leaders also complimented China on initiating the mega project. Reflecting its opposition, India had boycotted the BRI Forum in Beijing. Sharif, Sri Lankan Premier Ranil Ranil Wickremesinghe, Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among the world leaders who attended the meeting. The US had sent a delegation led by Matt Pottinger, special assistant to the President and senior director for Asia at the National Security Council. Earlier in the day, Modi met Xi on the sidelines of the Summit and underscored the need to respect each other’s “core concerns” and appropriately handle the disputes. During the meeting, Modi said India and China should tap their potential in cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination in international affairs, respect each other’s core concerns and appropriately handle their disputes. Asked if China brought up India’s boycott of the OBOR during the meeting, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar at a briefing said, “Again, I would repeat that the meeting was very cordial, meeting was very positive. There was discussion on connectivity, how we could work together. In fact, to my recollection, the AIIB i.e. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BCIM Corridor came up for discussion.” On being asked if Modi raised the issue of CPEC, Jaishankar said, “I will again give you a sense of the meeting. The sense of the meeting was that two countries have great benefit, great interest in working with each other and we will have differences but where we have differences, how do we work through those differences, find common ground where they are possible and also a sense that wherever we have concerns, each side would look at it with a degree of seriousness.”(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

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Need to respect sovereignty in connectivity projects: PM