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With two summits, PM Modi to have hectic schedule in Russia

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The back-to-back BRICS and SCO summits in the Russian city of Ufa from July 8 to 10, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend, will see a lot of activity, including the first session of governors of the ambitious BRICS New Development Bank and India likely acquiring full membership of the China-led SCO.

Modi is to travel to Russia to attend the summits of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa bloc (BRICS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. He is also slated to travel to the five central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan later for brief visits to the energy-rich nations.

Moscow, which is preparing in earnest for the two summits in the face of an economic downslide and crippling Western sanctions over the Ukraine issue, has issued 3-rouble commemorative silver coins for both the summits.

The Central Bank of Russia issued the coins, which will be on sale at commercial banks, primarily at Sberbank, the bank said on Monday.

The coins, with the words “A Meeting of the BRICS Heads of State in Ufa”, will show the coin’s nominal value, its date of issuance, the national emblem of the Russian Federation on the obverse side. The reverse will show an official colour logo of Russia’s BRICS Presidency and below it, a stylised seven-petal Kurai flower, which is part of Bashkortostan’s national emblem and flag.

Only 1,500 coins will be issued.

A day ahead of the July 8-9 Seventh BRICS summit, the Board of Governors of the BRICS New Development Bank will hold its first meeting in Moscow. The July 7 meet of governors will formalize the launch of the $100 billion BRICS New Development Bank along with a currency reserve pool worth another $100 billion at the Ufa summit.

The New Development Bank, to be headed by India’s K.V. Kamath, is expected to provide a financing alternative to the World Bank, where the five large emerging markets have sought more clout.

The Contingent Reserve Arrangement will allow the BRICS countries to draw funds when going through a crisis.

The bank, headquartered in Shanghai, is to finance infrastructure and sustainability projects in BRICS and other emerging and developing countries.

The 14th SCO summit will be held in Ufa on July 9-10 during which both India and Pakistan are likely to be granted full membership of the China-backed grouping.

India had formally applied for membership during the SCO summit in Dushanbe last year.

The grouping was formed in 2001 by the leaders of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Earlier, the countries, except for Uzbekistan, were members of the Shanghai Five, a political union found in 1996. After Uzbekistan joined the grouping in 2001, the Five turned into the Six and subsequently took its current name.

Currently, five countries — Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan — have observer-nation status, while three more — Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka — have dialogue partner status.

Among the major goals of SCO are improving mutual trust between its members; assisting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, science and development, culture and other areas of cooperation; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace; and moving towards a new democratic, just and rational political and economic international order.

Greece, which is going through tough economic times, has voiced keenness to become a member of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB).

China is expected to push its Silk Road Economic Belt initiative at the SCO.