Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto in Goa to attend SCO meet
Later in the day, Jaishankar will host a dinner for all the visiting ministers.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who will lead the country’s delegation at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – Council of Foreign Ministers, reached Goa on Thursday afternoon. In a video tweet in the morning, Bhutto said he was already on the way to Goa and is looking forward to “constructive discussions” with his counterparts from “friendly countries”. “My decision to attend this meeting illustrates Pakistan’s strong commitment to the charter of SCO,” he added.
A day ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Goa, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is holding bilateral meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang. He kicked off his day at work by holding talks with SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming and will host a dinner for all the visiting ministers later in the day.
Sharing a photo of his interaction with Ming, Jaishankar wrote on Twitter: “Started my meetings at SCO CFM (Council of Foreign Ministers) with a productive interaction with Secretary General Zhang Ming. Appreciate his support for India’s SCO Presidency. Indian presidency is driven by a commitment to SECURE SCO. Its key focus areas are startups, traditional medicine, youth empowerment, buddhist heritage and science & technology. Looking forward to a successful CFM in Goa.”
Jaishankar reached Goa Wednesday to take stock of the arrangements at the venue for the SCO meet – a luxury hotel in South Goa. Although there was no official word yet on the possible bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the SCO meet, sources said meetings with some of the dignitaries are likely as is the convention.
However, they indicated that there was no plan yet for the much-anticipated bilateral with Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is expected to reach Goa Thursday evening.
Zardari will be the first Pakistan Foreign Minister to visit India since December 2016, when Sartaj Aziz came to Amritsar for the Heart of Asia summit.
India and Pakistan are members of the SCO, which also includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Delhi wants to focus on the SCO grouping, which is going to take place in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war and concerns over China’s expansionist behaviour.
The situation in Afghanistan, terrorism and the regional security situation are some of the issues expected to come up for discussions. Ways to expand overall cooperation including in areas of trade, investment and connectivity will also be on the agenda.