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**1. Visit of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to Kazakhstan**:
S. Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister of India, embarked on a tour to Astana, Kazakhstan, on a Tuesday to lead the Indian team at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of State. This appearance on July 3 and 4 will be in lieu of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as announced by the Ministry of External Affairs.

**2. Inclusion of Belarus in the Eurasian Group**:
In the current year, Belarus joined the Eurasian group. This group will be convening at the SCO summit hosted by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The summit will be attended by prominent leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif and Presidents of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

**3. Chinese President’s State Visit**:
Chinese President Xi Jinping had arrived in Astana for a state visit and to participate in bilateral talks ahead of the SCO.

**4. Meeting with Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister**:
Mr. Jaishankar engaged in a meeting with the Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Murat Nurtleu, upon landing in Astana. They discussed their ever-expanding strategic partnership and India’s growing engagement with Central Asia in various capacities.

**5. SCO Summit and India’s Role**:
The summit scheduled to begin with a reception on July 3 is likely to witness Mr. Jaishankar addressing the group members at the plenary session in Astana scheduled for July 4 morning.

**6. PM Modi’s Absence**:
Despite potential virtual participation, PM Modi’s decision to abstain from the summit in Kazakhstan is speculated to anticipate instances of sharing the stage with top leaders of China and Pakistan considering recent conflicts with both countries. His absence could also upset Central Asian leadership.

**7. Expected Adoptions at the SCO Council**:
The SCO Council is expected to adopt the Astana Declaration on Thursday, which is presumed to seek reinforcements between the SCO nations on economic matters, connectivity, combating terrorism, and regional growth.

**8. Issues to be discussed**:
The summit also aims to cover major issues such as proposals for maximizing the Chabahar Port, utilizing the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), and the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), which is at a standstill due to the Israel-Gaza feud.

**9. Pakistan’s Proposal**:
Pakistan PM, Mr. Sharif, is likely to present an offer to utilize Qasim port and Gwadar port for facilitating trade routes for land-locked Central Asia.

**10. Developments in Afghanistan**:
The summit is also expected to discuss recent developments in Afghanistan involving the Taliban regime in Kabul, especially concerning the UN-led talks held in Doha.

**Topic related MCQs**:

**Q1.** When did India and Pakistan become members of the SCO?
a) 2015
b) 2017
c) 2018
d) 2016

**Answer:** b) 2017

**Explanation:** Both India and Pakistan gained membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the year 2017.

**Q2.** Who led the Indian delegation to the SCO Summit in 2023?
a) Prime Minister Narendra Modi
b) External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar
c) President Ram Nath Kovind
d) Vice President Venkaiah Naidu

**Answer:** b) External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar

**Explanation:** Due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s absence, the Indian delegation to the SCO Summit in 2023 was led by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

**Q3.** Which country became a full member of the SCO in 2023?
a) India
b) Iran
c) Pakistan
d) Belarus

**Answer:** b) Iran

**Explanation:** Iran had officially become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the year 2023.

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