Imran to skip SCO meet; Chinese Premier Li to attend

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will not participate in the 19th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) heads of government to be hosted by India in the virtual format on Monday while Chinese Premier has given his consent to take part in the key meet.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) today announced that Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu will chair the meeting. It will be the first time that a summit-level meeting of SCO will be held under India’s chairmanship, since it gained full -membership of the organisation in 2017.

The summit is held annually at the level of prime ministers of SCO countries and deals primarily with the trade and economic agenda of the organisation. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had recently attended the SCO Summit hosted by Russia in the virtual format, also will not be attending the meeting on Monday due to his preoccupation with pressing domestic issues.

The MEA said the prime ministers from the SCO member countries of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will attend the meeting while Pakistan will be represented by its parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs. Islamabad’s representation will be at the lowest level, given its relationship with India.

Apart from the SCO members, the four observer countries of SCO will also participate. They include the president of Afghanistan, the first vice president of Iran, the prime minister of Belarus and the deputy prime minister of Mongolia. Turkmenistan has been invited as a special guest of the host and will be represented by the deputy chairman of the cabinet of ministers.

The two bodies of SCO will be represented by the SCO secretary general and the executive director of the SCO regional anti-terrorist structure (RATS).

The chairmen of the SCO business council and the SCO interbank association will also be present. The 30 November will end with the adoption of a joint communique by the member countries.

By chairing the meeting, India hopes to further strengthen greater trade, economic and cultural cooperation within SCO by putting human beings at the centre of SCO activities and to foster greater peace and prosperity in the region.

“We hope that India’s initiatives will not only be helpful for SCO member states in overcoming the economic challenges posed by the pandemic, but will also signal our continued commitment to strengthening the organisation,” the MEA added.

India considers SCO as an important regional organisation to promote cooperation in the areas of peace, security, trade, economy and culture. India assumed the chairmanship of the SCO council of heads of government on 2 November 2019 as per rotation from the previous chair ~Uzbekistan~ and will complete its year-long tenure on 30 November.

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