Last update: May 03, 2023, 3:36 PM HST
Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on January 30, 2023. (AFP)
It is also expected that there will be a bilateral meeting between Jaishankar and Bhutto-Zardari on the sidelines of the SCO conclave.
India will host foreign ministers from Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries in Goa from Thursday. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Russian Sergey Lavrov and Pakistani Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari are among those who will attend the meeting which will be chaired by Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.
Bilawal Bhutto will arrive in Goa around 5 p.m. on Thursday and attend the conclave. However, it is unclear whether he would attend the gala dinner hosted by External Affairs Minister Jaishankar at a beach in Goa.
Foreign ministers and heads of delegation will arrive in Goa from Thursday while the meeting of the council of foreign ministers will be held at 10.15 a.m.
The general situation in Afghanistan, including fears that the country could become a breeding ground for terrorism under the Taliban regime, as well as rapidly changing regional security, should figure prominently in the deliberations.
However, it is also expected that there will be a bilateral meeting between Jaishankar and Bhutto-Zardari on the sidelines of the SCO conclave.
Bhutto’s visit will be the first such visit from Islamabad since 2011. Then-Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited India that year. Khar is currently Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
India is emerging as a key player among SCO countries, although China and Russia are seen as the main drivers of the grouping which is increasingly seen as an “alternative” to NATO.
India is hosting the SCO conclave as its ties with China are strained due to the lingering border line in eastern Ladakh.
On the sidelines of the conclave, Jaishankar is expected to hold separate bilateral talks with his counterparts from Russia, China and a few other member countries, people familiar with the matter said.
While visiting dignitaries will be welcomed at a gala reception on May 4, crucial deliberations on various key challenges facing member countries of the grouping will be held on May 5, people familiar with the matter said.
India hosted the SCO defense ministerial meeting last week. Defense ministers from all member countries of the grouping except Pakistan traveled to New Delhi and attended the meeting.
The Pakistani Prime Minister’s Special Assistant for Defense Affairs, Malik Ahmed Khan, joined the deliberations virtually.
(With contributions from Shailendra Wangu)
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