Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to participate in the 23rd Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of State (CHS), which will be conducted in virtual mode next week, as announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan.
The invitation to the Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif was extended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The SCO Council of Heads of State meeting will be held in video conference format on July 4. "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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan said in an official release.
The leaders will discuss significant global and regional issues and determine the future course of cooperation among the SCO Member States at the upcoming CHS, the highest form of the SCO.
Notably, the SCO CHS meeting will also welcome Iran as a new member of the organisation this year.
"The Prime Minister's participation in the CHS illustrates the high importance that Pakistan attaches to the SCO, as an important forum for regional security and prosperity, and enhanced engagement with the region," the official release of Pakistan Foreign Ministry read.
The SCO Council of Heads of State is scheduled to take place on July 4, and will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually, according to the statement released by SCO.
As per SCO tradition, Turkmenistan has also been invited as the guest of the Chair.
Heads of the two SCO Bodies - the Secretariat and the SCO RATS - will also be present. Heads of six international and regional organizations have also been invited, viz. UN, ASEAN, CIS, CSTO, EAEU and CICA.
"The theme of the Summit is 'Towards a SECURE SCO'. The SECURE acronym was coined by the Prime Minister at the 2018 SCO Summit and stands for Security; Economy and Trade; Connectivity; Unity; Respect for Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity; and Environment. These themes have been highlighted during our Chairmanship of SCO," the statement read.
"India has set up new pillars of cooperation under its Chairmanship - Startups and Innovation; Traditional Medicine; Digital Inclusion; Youth Empowerment; and Shared Buddhist Heritage. In addition, India has worked towards fostering greater people-to-people ties that celebrate the historical and civilizational bonds between our nations. These include the various socio-cultural events hosted by Varanasi under the framework of the first-ever SCO Cultural and Tourist Capital for 2022-23," the statement added.
In 2022, India assumed the presidency of the SCO, marking a significant milestone in the country's role in regional cooperation and its endeavour of advocating for an integrated neighbourhood.
The rotational presidency remains with India until September 2023.
India's Chairmanship of SCO has been a period of intense activity and mutually beneficial cooperation between Member States. India has hosted a total of 134 meetings and events, including 14 Ministerial-level meetings.