Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reached Moscow on Wednesday to attend the meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (SCO-CFM) scheduled to be held on September 9 and 10.
On his arrival at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, FM Qureshi was welcomed by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Moscow Shafqat Ali Khan, Additional Secretary Zahoor Ahmed and senior Russian foreign ministry officials.
The invitation to the foreign minister to attend the SCO-CFM was extended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who would also chair the meeting, the Foreign Office said in a statement on September 8.
The SCO-CFM is the highest forum of SCO after the Council of Heads of State (CHS) and the Council of Heads of Government (CHG). It deliberates on important regional and international issues and considers documents for approval and adoption by the Council of Heads of State.
Besides Pakistan, SCO’s current membership comprises China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
“The SCO is an important forum for further enriching our deep-rooted historical and cultural links with member states, providing these ties a sound economic foundation, and promoting Pakistan as a regional trade and transit corridor,” read the communique.
The foreign minister will have bilateral engagements on the sidelines of the SCO meeting but diplomatic sources ruled out any interaction between Pakistan and India.
Tensions have been running high in the South Asian region with Islamabad and New Delhi ties continued to soar over disputed Kashmir region and the on-going military standoff between China and India along their contested border.
Observers believe that new alignments taking place with Pakistan, China, Russia and certain other countries in one camp while the US, India and its other western allies in the other camp.
Although, it is officially not said, the current regional tensions will certainly come up for discussions during the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting.
According to the FO statement, the Moscow SCO-CFM will consider more than 20 documents for subsequent adoption in the SCO Council of Heads of State. It will also adopt a Joint Communiqué reflecting member states’ unified stance on important regional and international issues.
The SCO’s major objectives include promoting mutual confidence and good-neighbourly relations among the member states; strengthening regional peace, security and stability; and creating a framework for effective cooperation in political, cultural, trade and economy, science and technology, education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and other fields.
“Since becoming a member in 2017, Pakistan has been actively contributing in working towards achieving SCO’s multi-sectoral agenda through participation in various SCO mechanisms. From 2005 to 2017, Pakistan was an Observer in SCO,” the official statement added.