New Delhi: Defence ministers of China, Russia and other member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) except Pakistan will travel to India to attend a key meeting of the grouping this week.
Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif will attend the SCO defence ministers’ meeting in New Delhi on Friday through virtual mode, according to an official readout.
Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu are among those who are visiting India to attend the meeting.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will chair the meeting that is expected to deliberate on regional security situation including developments in Afghanistan.
“Defence Ministers of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan will participate. India has invited Belarus and Iran,currently observers in SCO, to participate in the SCO defence ministers’ meeting,” the defence ministry said.
“Defence Minister of Pakistan would be participating virtually. The ministers will discuss matters related to regional peace and security, counter terrorism efforts within SCO and an effective multilateralism,” it said in a statement.
The ministry said Singh will be holding bilateral meetings with the participating defence ministers on April 27 and 28 where bilateral defence related issues and other matters of mutual interest will be discussed.
It said India has ancient civilizational, cultural and spiritual ties with the SCO member countries.
“India’s membership of SCO in 2017, was therefore, a reaffirmation of New Delhi’s keenness to deepen these historic ties.India considers SCO as an important regional group to promote multilateral, political, security, economic and people-to-people interactions in the region,” it said.
The ministry said India continues to bring more ideas and initiatives to strengthen cooperation among SCO countries. “Under its Chairmanship, this year, India organised two defence related activities to enhance interoperability amongst SCO member states,” it said.
“The first being a workshop on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and the second was a seminar of SCO countries defence think-tanks on the issue of armed forces contributing to military medicine, healthcare and pandemics,” the ministry said.
“India stands committed to take forward the Agenda of SCO under its chairmanship,” it added.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.