Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting being held in Goa, India.
During the meeting, the two leaders discussed bilateral, regional, and international matters of mutual interest. FM Bilawal assured to work closely for further deepening cooperation in food security, energy and people-to-people contacts.
He said that the SCO opened new vistas of cooperation and coordination with Russia.
🇷🇺🇵🇰 4 мая С.В.#Лавров провел встречу с главой МИД Пакистана Б.Бхутто-Зардари.
Стороны обсудили текущее состояние российско-пакистанских отношений, региональную и международную проблематику.
🔗 Подробнее: https://t.co/suCsWvc30Z pic.twitter.com/SZnDmdfhS8
— МИД России 🇷🇺 (@MID_RF) May 4, 2023
In a press release, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the two leaders discussed "the current state of Russian-Pakistani relations, regional and international issues, and exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan".
"We highly appreciated the interaction between Russia and Pakistan on the world stage, including at such authoritative multilateral platforms as the UN and the SCO. We agreed to further expand contacts between the foreign ministries of the two countries," it added.
Earlier in the day, the Pakistani foreign minister was received at the airport by senior officials of the Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
According to the Foreign Office (FO), the Pakistan delegation is attending the meeting at the invitation of India's Minister for External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar who is the current chair of the SCO CFM.
Read India denies Pakistan entry at SCO meeting
In a statement, the FO added that our participation in the two-day meeting reflects Pakistan's commitment to the SCO charter, processes and the importance that Islamabad accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities.
Prior to his arrival in the neighbouring country, the FM posted a video on Twitter and said that his “decision to attend this meeting illustrates Pakistan’s strong commitment to the charter of SCO”.
He furthered that he looks “forward to constructive discussions with [his] counterparts from friendly countries”.
On my way to Goa, India. Will be leading the Pakistan delegation at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization CFM. My decision to attend this meeting illustrates Pakistan’s strong commitment to the charter of SCO.
During my visit, which is focused exclusively on the SCO, I look… pic.twitter.com/cChUWj9okR
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) May 4, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also maintained that "Pakistan's decision to attend the SCO Council of Foreign Minister's meeting in India reflects our commitment to the SCO Charter [and] multilateralism."
Pakistan's decision to attend SCO Council of Foreign Minister's meeting in India reflects our commitment to the SCO Charter & multilateralism. We are committed to playing our part to advance our shared values of peace & stability in the region. We are all for win win…
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) May 4, 2023
A day earlier, Bilawal had held a consultation with the political leaders on his India visit.
Bilawal Bhutto had called Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convenor Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and took him into confidence regarding the visit. He also consulted other political leaders.
Also read: India invites CJ, FM for SCO meetings
The relationship between Pakistan and India has remained at a standstill despite efforts by the two sides to mend ties.
FM Bilawal’s trip to India will be seen as an ice-breaking move, though it may not bring any dramatic changes in the bilateral relationship.
It is believed that Pakistan took the decision considering the importance of the SCO. There were strong voices in favour of the visit given that Pakistan must not leave such important regional forums and provide India a chance to further isolate the country.