Pakistan’s Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to attend SCO meet in India in May

It would be the highest-level visit to India by any Pakistani leader in recent years and a possible opportunity to break the ice between the two nations

Updated - April 20, 2023 04:55 pm IST

Published - April 20, 2023 01:41 pm IST - Islamabad

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. File

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. File | Photo Credit: AP

Pakistan announced on April 20 that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would participate in the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) meeting in India next month.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahrah Baloch announced it at a weekly media briefing in Islamabad.

“Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will be leading the Pakistan delegation to the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) being held on May 4-5, 2023, in Goa, India,” she said, ending weeks-long speculation if he would attend the conference in-person.

She said the Pakistan Foreign Minister would be attending the meeting as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had invited him to attend the SCO meet.

Also Read | Amit Shah to chair SCO meeting

“Our participation in the meeting reflects Pakistan’s commitment to the SCO Charter and processes and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities,” Ms. Baloch said.

“Now that this decision has been taken we will be making preparations for the visit. In the coming days as decisions are taken, will be making further announcements. I must underline, however, that the upcoming visit of the Foreign Minister is not a bilateral visit but a visit in SCO context,” a Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson said.

It would be the highest-level visit to India by any Pakistani leader in recent years and a possible opportunity to break the ice between the two nations.

The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.

Also Read | China’s new Defence Minister likely to visit India for SCO meet in April

The relations further deteriorated after India announced the withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special powers and the bifurcation of the erstwhile State into Union Territories in August 2019.

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations.

India and Pakistan became permanent members of the Beijing-based SCO in 2017.

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