Sunday, January 24, 2021

No India-Pakistan Meeting at SCO Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

The foreign ministers of Pakistan and India are unlikely to engage in an official bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Orga­ni­sation’s (SCO) ministerial meeting later this month in Bishkek, although two leaders could exchange pleasantries.

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“The two foreign ministers would be present in the meeting and in all likelihood would interact amongst themselves and with other leaders. No formal meeting is, however, envisaged,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said at the weekly media briefing on Thursday.

The SCO ministerial mee­ting is being held in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on May 21-22, a couple of days before the announcement of the results of elections in India.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi would be representing Pakistan at the meeting, whereas External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would be leading the Indian delegation. The foreign ministers of the two countries have not met for over three years now and a meeting planned in New York last September was cancelled.

The speculation about a possible meeting of the foreign ministers was set off by Wednesday’s meeting between Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood and Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria.

When asked about the meeting between HC Bisaria and FS Mehmood, Dr Faisal said: “Such meetings occur regularly to discuss various evolving issues. I cannot disclose the detailed agenda.”

Responding to a question about India’s massive defence spending that was around $66.5 billion last year, the spokesman said India was trying to push the region into an arms race.

“Let me say that an inc­rease in the defence budget is not the sole determinant of a nation’s strength. You have seen the results of the misadventure by India on 27th February 2019 and the befitting reply given by our military forces,” he added.

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