India is hosting a meeting of the foreign ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) nations in Goa from Thursday. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will chair the meeting, where Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, and Pakistan’s Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari are among those set to attend. The meeting comes as India’s ties with China are under severe strain over the border row in eastern Ladakh.
Bhutto-Zardari’s visit will be the first from Islamabad since 2011, when then-Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited India. It is still unclear if Bhutto-Zardari will attend the Gala Dinner hosted by Jaishankar at a Goa beach. The overall situation in Afghanistan and regional security, as well as the possibility of bilateral meetings between the foreign ministers, are expected to be discussed at the conclave.
Jaishankar is expected to hold separate talks with his counterparts from Russia, China, and a few other member nations. People familiar with the matter said that while visiting dignitaries will be welcomed at a gala reception on May 4, crucial deliberations on various key challenges facing the member nations of the grouping will be held on May 5. India hosted the SCO defence ministerial meeting last week, which was attended by all member nations except Pakistan.