The first day of SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov's official visit began with a meeting with Dr Mahesh Sharma, Culture Minister of the Republic of India.
During the meeting, held in an open and constructive atmosphere, the officials discussed the current state of and prospects for cooperation in culture and art in the framework of the SCO.
They also discussed preparations for a meeting of the SCO ministers of culture that will take place on 15-18 May 2018 in Hainan as part of China's chairmanship.
"Cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian spheres are areas of focus for the SCO. Developing ties in these areas promotes historical and cultural studies, helps people develop a dialogue and get closer to each other as well as promotes cooperation and actively spreads knowledge about their centuries-old traditions. Of course, the rich and diverse Indian culture that goes back to ancient times while still accepting the latest trends, is a contribution to the dialogue of civilisations in the SCO region as well as to cultural cooperation in the SCO family," the Secretary-General said, and noted that it was joint cultural and art events that help preserve cultural diversity.
Rashid Alimov told Mahesh Sharma about the tradition of holding various cultural and humanitarian events at the SCO headquarters as part of the SCO Is Our Common Home programme and expressed hope that India would join and actively participate in its implementation.
The Indian Minister of Culture expressed his willingness to develop multifaceted and bilateral cultural ties within the SCO and noted New Delhi's striving to strengthen mutual understanding and respect as well as harmonious coexistence. "We regard the SCO as an open window of opportunity to promote the unique Indian culture as well as our historical and cultural heritage," Dr Sharma said.
The officials discussed several issues related to SCO international cultural and humanitarian cooperation. In this context, they welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation between the SCO and UNESCO that might be signed on the sidelines of the upcoming SCO Summit in Qingdao (9-10 June 2018).
The SCO Secretary-General is on an official visit to India on 7-8 May 2018 at the invitation of Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.