Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto to attend SCO meeting in Goa
20 April, 2023 | Pragati Singh
Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch stated that Bhutto-Zardari is attending the SCO-CFM meeting at the invitation of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Officials said on Thursday that Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will visit India in May for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Goa. According to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Bhutto-Zardari will lead the Pakistani delegation to the SCO Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting on May 4-5 in Goa. During a weekly press conference on Thursday, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch stated that Bhutto-Zardari is attending the SCO-CFM meeting at the invitation of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
“Our participation at the meeting reflects Pakistan’s continued commitment to the SCO charter and process and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities,” the spokesperson said.
According to Business Recorder, Bilawal will be the first foreign minister to visit India in nearly 12 years. Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s then-foreign minister, visited India in 2011. India has formally invited all members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), including Pakistan and China, to the upcoming meeting of foreign ministers.
The meeting is also expected to include Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. India assumed the presidency of the nine-member mega grouping in September of last year and will host key ministerial meetings and the summit this year.
Relations between the two countries have been strained for many years due to issues of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, even as Islamabad has sought the restoration of Article 370 for the former Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in order to hold talks.
Russia, India, China, Pakistan, and four Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – are all members of the 20-year-old organisation. Iran is the newest member and will attend the grouping’s meeting as a full-fledged member for the first time under Indian Presidency.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s most recent meeting was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit. The 22nd Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in September 2022 was the first in-person summit since the SCO leaders met in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in June 2019.
Notably, this year’s SCO foreign ministers meeting follows the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and India’s G20 presidency.