Sushma Swaraj may again snub Pakistan’s Foreign Minister at SCO Meet


New Delhi: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj may ignore the presence of her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi at an international forum for the second time in a fortnight when the two attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) heads of government meet in Tajikistan on October 11-12.

A formal standalone meeting between the two or pull aside is unlikely in the current circumstances, said people aware of the matter, although the two leaders will be at the SCO meet for two days for a series of meetings.

The SAARC foreign ministers meet, attended by the two ministers in New York on September 27, had lasted for just two hours. Swaraj and Qureshi had participated in the meet in the backdrop of India turning down newly installed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s request for a meeting between the two ministers on the sidelines of the event.

India had turned down the request about 24 hours after accepting it and charged the Khan government with continued support of terrorism against India.

Qureshi then went on to launch a personal attack on Swaraj at an Asia Society event, also in New York, and later blamed India for terrorist attacks in Pakistan during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly. It remains to be seen whether Swaraj or Qureshi exchange any greetings in the context of the larger gathering at the SCO meet, said one of the persons cited earlier, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon will host a banquet in the honour of visiting heads of government on October 11 in Dushanbe where both foreign ministers are also invited. The SCO meet also comes in the backdrop of India and Pakistan joining multinational military exercises for the first time under the auspices of the SCO in Russia in August. At this meet, documents related to financial, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation will be signed. SCO is also currently reviewing a number of applications from other countries that want to join the grouping.

In June, Qingdao in China hosted a meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council where PM Narendra Modi was present.


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