Pak PM Sharif to attend virtual SCO summit on July 4

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will participate in a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit on the invitation of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on July 4, Pakistan’s foreign ministry announced on Friday.

In a statement, it said Sharif’s participation in the summit illustrates the high importance that Pakistan attaches to the SCO, which is an important forum for regional security and prosperity, and enhanced engagement with the region.

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will participate in the 23rd Meeting of SCO Council of Heads of State (CHS) being held in video conference format on 4th July 2023,” it said.

“The invitation to the Prime Minister to attend the SCO-CHS was extended by the Prime Minister of India in his capacity as the current Chair of the SCO,” the statement said.

At the summit, the leaders will deliberate on important global and regional issues and chart the future direction of cooperation among SCO Member States. This year, the SCO CHS will also welcome Iran as a new member of the organisation, it said.

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.

India assumed the rotating chairmanship of the SCO at the Samarkand Summit on September 16 last year.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced in May that India will host the annual summit of the SCO in the virtual format on July 4. However, it did not cite reasons for holding the summit in the virtual mode.