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    Expansion of Group and July Summit Agenda to Be Discussed at SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Goa

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    The Council of Foreign Ministers for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has begun in Goa. The meeting will cover 15 key points, including expansion possibilities and granting SCO Dialogue Partners status to Bahrain, Kuwait, Myanmar, Maldives, and the UAE. The meeting will shape the agenda ahead of the summit in July.

    Foreign ministers from all SCO member-states reached Goa on Thursday and participated in a gala dinner hosted by the external affairs ministry. India is leading two working groups on Innovations and Startup and Traditional Medicine on Friday. The possibility of Iran and Belarus joining the SCO will be discussed.

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    The foreign ministers will also discuss preparations and lay the groundwork for the upcoming meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State, scheduled for July 3 and July 4. The possibility of expanding SCO to include more countries from the Eurasian block will also be discussed. Iran and Belarus would become the ninth and tenth members of the SCO, joining China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, and Pakistan.

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    On Thursday, the Union external affairs minister S Jaishankar held several bilateral meetings. S Jaishankar met Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang. He also met Uzbekistan counterpart Bakhtiyor Saidov. He earlier met SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming.

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    The SCO foreign ministers conclave also witnessed the first visit in six years by a Pakistani foreign minister as Bilawal Bhutto Zardari arrived in Goa. He also held bilateral meetings with Lavrov and Qin and attended the gala dinner.

    During his bilateral meeting with Qin Gang, S Jaishankar reiterated that the “key focus remains on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”

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