First time in 12 years, India invites Pakistan’s foreign minister for SCO meet

First time in 12 years, India invites Pakistan’s foreign minister for SCO meet

Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Photo : AP

New Delhi: India has invited the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers’ meeting which is scheduled to take place in Goa. The invite, first in at least 12 years, comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the country has learned its lesson and wants peaceful relation with India.

India has formally sent invitations to all members of the SCO, including Pakistan and China for the upcoming meeting which will be held in Goa from May 4-5, the Indian Express reported. The report said that an official invitation was sent to Pakistan’s foreign minister by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar through the Indian Embassy in Islamabad.

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

So far there is no confirmation from the Pakistani side whether Foreign Minister Bilawal will attend the meeting or not, sources said to news agency ANI.

The last time a Pakistan Foreign Minister visited India was in 2012 when Hina Rabbani Khar came to hold talks with her Indian counterpart. Recently, Hina said the statesmanship needed to resolve the issues between Pakistan and India. She suggested that there was no chance of normalcy between both neighbouring countries unless India reversed the legislative changes (Article 370) in Jammu and Kashmir.

Notably, Pakistan has not participated in the SCO Film Festival which will be held in Mumbai later this month. All countries except Pakistan have sent their entries for screening in the group’s third such film festival.

The SCO is an intergovernmental organization that comprises eight member states – China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Iran is the newest member of the organization and it will, for the first time, attend the grouping’s meeting as a full member.

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