Pak FM Bilawal arrives in Goa for SCO meeting

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FM Bilawal arrives in Goa for SCO meeting
Goa:Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari arrived in the Indian city of Goa on Thursday to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting. In a video message on Twitter, Bilawal — the first foreign minister to head to India in over a decade — confirmed that he had reached Goa. Bilawal said that he would first hold meetings with his counterparts from Russia and Uzbekistan, which will be followed by a formal dinner for all the foreign ministers at the SCO.

“I will give one or two interviews and that is the programme for today,” he added. The SCO’s Council of Foreign Ministers in Goa is scheduled to be held today and tomorrow.

Indian news agency ANI shared photos of Bilawal and Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in Goa. Speaking to the media upon his arrival, the foreign minister said he was “happy” to be arriving in Goa for the SCO. He said that he expected the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to be “successful”.

Ahead of his departure, Bilawal said he was looking forward to “engaging bilaterally” countries that were part of the SCO. “On my way to Goa, India. Will be leading the Pakistan delegation at the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers. My decision to attend this meeting illustrates Pakistan’s strong commitment to the charter of SCO,” he said on Twitter.

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“During my visit, which is focused exclusively on the SCO, I look forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries,” he said. In a video message alongside his tweet, the foreign minister also stated that he was looking forward to “engaging bilaterally” with countries that were part of the organisation.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan’s decision to attend the SCO meet reflected the country’s commitment to the organisation’s charter and multilateralism.

“We are committed to playing our part to advance our shared values of peace and stability in the region. We are all for win-win understandings based on connectivity, trade and mutually advantageous cooperation,” he said.

Bilawal’s trip will be the first visit to India by a foreign minister of Pakistan since July 2011, when then-foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited for peace talks. The visit comes at a time when the relationship between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals has nosedived over a combination of factors.

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