SCO foreign ministers meet in India amid tensions between members

New Delhi, May 5 (EFE).- Foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meet Friday in India to discuss urgent regional and international issues ahead of the meeting of the heads of state of the group, to be held in New Delhi in July, amid tensions between several of its members.

“The agenda of the ministerial meeting will focus on preparations for the upcoming meeting of the Heads of States Council: coordination of draft documents to be adopted at the summit, discussion of the process of admitting the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Belarus to the SCO as member states, etc.,” the SCO said in a statement.

“The participants will also exchange views on pressing regional and international issues,” it added.

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmayam Jaishankar is presiding over the meeting in the western coastal state of Goa that brings together the foreign ministers of the eight SCO members: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

During his inaugural address, Jaishankar said the meeting would be an opportunity to make the SCO, which accounts for more than a third of the world’s population, relevant in a world of rapid transformation.

He also spoke of the multitude of challenges facing the planet as a result of the Covid pandemic and geopolitical instability, which have pushed the threat of terrorism to the background.

Jaishankar further stressed on the need to stop terror and all its forms, including cross-border terrorism.

The meeting is also being attended by Bilawal Bhutto, who became the first foreign minister from Pakistan to visit India since Hina Rabbani Khar in 2011.

India and Pakistan have kept their diplomatic engagement to a bare minimum, and refused to hold bilateral talks due to hostile relations between them mainly over the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism.

Bhutto was not received by any senior official from India upon his arrival at Goa, according to images released by the Pakistan Foreign Office in India.

Jaishankar on Thursday held bilateral meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The meeting with Qin served to discuss tensions between the two countries at the border in recent years, while talks with Lavrov focused on cooperation between the two parties at bilateral and multilateral levels.

The SCO meeting is also seen as an opportunity to measure Moscow’s influence among its Asian partners more than a year after the war in Ukraine.

India in 2017 joined the SCO, an entity focused on political, economic, security and defense issues, which also comprises China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

Apart from the eight member states, the bloc currently has four observers – Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia – and six dialogue partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

Established in 2001, the SCO has a special focus on regional security, the fight against terrorism in the region, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. EFE


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