Ahead of SCO Summit, Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman meet ministers from member nations

The meetings of the defence and foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), being attended by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, began in Beijing on Tuesday. The two meetings are being held simultaneously.

Swaraj, along with other foreign ministers of the SCO member countries, met Chinese president Xi Jinping at the Great Hall on Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs said. Besides Swaraj, Pakistan's Khawaja Asif, Kazakhstan's Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Kyrgyzstan's Erlan Abdyldayev, Russia's Sergey Lavrov, Tajikistan's Sirodjidin Aslov and Abdulaziz Kamilov of Uzbekistan also met Xi.

However, there will be no bilateral meetings between Swaraj, Sitharaman and their Pakistan counterparts at the SCO ministerial meets in Beijing, official sources told PTI.

The meetings, which are part of the preparations for the SCO summit to be held in the Chinese city of Qingdao in June, have become prominent as they are the first such meetings after India and Pakistan were admitted into the eight-member group last year.

Ahead of SCO Summit, Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman meet ministers from member nations

Sushma Swaraj with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi in Beijing on Sunday. Twitter@EOIBeijing

Both events are to be attended by the respective ministers from Pakistan. A host of issues including that of regional security and counter-terrorism are expected to figure in the meetings. Relations between India and Pakistan turned frosty after the Pathankot terror attack in January 2016 and another strike by terrorists on an Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in September that year.

The SCO, in which China plays a massive role, is a political, economic, and security grouping. The organisation consists of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said on Friday that issues related to terrorism will be discussed at the SCO foreign ministers' meeting.

"We believe it is a purpose of the SCO to promote relevant cooperation in that field. Security has been a priority of the SCO since its inception," she said and defended Pakistan after Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed it as "terror export factory" at an event in London recently.

So the upcoming meeting will see participants exchanging views on the relevant issues, along with major international and regional issues, Hua said.

While Modi is scheduled to attend the SCO summit, officials say Pakistan is expected to be represented by its president Mamnoon Hussain as its prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had recently attended the Boao Forum for Asia in the Chinese city of Boao.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2018 08:26:11 IST

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