Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto to attend SCO meeting in Goa

File Photo of Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto
File Photo of Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto

Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will visit India this May for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Goa, officials said on Thursday.

Bhutto-Zardari will lead the Pakistani delegation to the meeting of SCO Foreign Ministers (CFM) scheduled to be held on May 4-5 in Goa, according to Pakistan's Foreign Ministry. Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch during a weekly presser on Thursday 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.

Bilawal will be the first foreign minister to visit India after a gap of nearly 12 years, reported Business Recorder. In 2011, then Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar had visited India.

India has formally sent invitations to all members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) including Pakistan and China for the upcoming foreign ministers' meeting.

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov are also likely to participate in the meeting.

India took over the chairmanship of the 9-member mega grouping in September last year and will be holding key ministerial meetings and the summit this year.

Relations between the two countries have been precarious for many years with regard to issues of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, even as Islamabad has been seeking the restoration of Article 370 for the former Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir for any talks.

The 20-year-old organization has Russia, India, China, Pakistan, and four central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as its members.

Iran is the latest country to become a member and under Indian Presidency will for the first time attend the grouping's meeting as a full-fledged member.

The last meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO in September 2022, was the first in-person summit since the June 2019 meeting of the SCO leaders in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

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