Samarkand: A few hours before he celebrates his 72nd birthday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a warm interaction with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand on Friday.

The two leaders discussed a range of subjects including the sensitive issue of the conflict in Ukraine. Putin even acknowledged Indian concerns and even made a candid remark about the situation in the east European country.

"I know about your position on the conflict in Ukraine and also about your concerns. We want all of this to end as soon as possible. We will keep you abreast of what is happening there," Putin told PM Modi.

However, on one aspect the Russian president held back.

President Putin said he cannot offer advance birthday wishes to Prime Minister Modi, who is about to celebrate his birthday on Saturday.

The two leaders met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand on Friday, during which Putin said that he "knows PM Modi is about to celebrate his birthday tomorrow, but he cannot offer congratulations in advance."

"Tomorrow my dear friend, we know you are about to celebrate your birthday, but as per Russian tradition, we never offer congratulations in advance so I cannot do that now," Putin said.

However, Putin extended his warmest regards and hoped that the ties between the two countries would continue to develop..

"...but I would like you to know that we know about that and we wish you all the best and we wish all the best to a friendly Indian nation and we wish prosperity to India under your leadership. The relations between India and Russia are developing, they have the nature of a strategic partnership and they continue to develop very rapidly," Putin added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will celebrate his 72nd birthday on September 17 and has a packed schedule for the day. He will deliver important speeches at four diverse events related to wildlife and environment, women empowerment, skills and youth development and next-generation infrastructure.

His visit to Samarkand in Uzbekistan is also important as India is set to take over as the next chair of the SCO. Uzbekistan is the current chair of SCO 2022. Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev welcomed PM Modi to the Congress Centre in Samarkand for the 22nd SCO Summit.

Putin congratulated India for assuming the presidency the following year. Apart from the Russian President, Chinese President Xi Jinping also congratulated India for the SCO Presidency in 2023 during the meeting of the expanded circle of the Heads of SCO.

The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six "Dialogue Partners" (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).

The Shanghai Five, formed in 1996, became the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 with the inclusion of Uzbekistan. With India and Pakistan entering the grouping in 2017 and the decision to admit Tehran as a full member in 2021, SCO became one of the largest multilateral organisations, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the global GDP and 40 per cent of the world's population.