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Bilawal Bhutto arrives in Goa to attend SCO Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting

GOA/KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reached Goa, India to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

Indian foreign ministry officials welcomed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his delegation members at the airport. Foreign Secretary Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch and other officials are part of the delegation.

Speaking to the media after landing in Goa, the foreign minister said, "I am happy that I have reached here in Goa to attend the SCO meeting. I hope that the SCO CFM will be a success."

The Foreign Minister is attending the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting at the invitation of the current Chair, Minister for External Affairs of India Dr. S. Jaishankar.

The Foreign Office Spokesperson said our participation in the meeting reflects Pakistan's commitment to the SCO Charter and processes and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities.

Earlier, the Foreign Minister had also attended the last meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in July last year in Tashkent.

Earlier in a statement issued on twitter on Thursday prior to leaving for India from Karachi, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said 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, he said.

“During my visit, which is focused exclusively on the SCO, I look forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries” FM Bilawal Bhutto said.

The foreign minister said that he was looking forward to engaging bilaterally with the countries that are part of the international forum.

"During my visit, which is focused exclusively on the SCO, I look forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries," Bilawal wrote on the microblogging site.

Meanwhile Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman and former foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi was of the view that there was “nothing wrong” with Bilawal visiting India.

"Pakistan is a member of SCO which is an important forum," Qureshi said, speaking to media, outside the Islamabad High Court. He said that Pakistan should use this forum for regional development.

On the other hand, taking exception to the foreign minister’s visit, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry took to Twitter to “strongly condemn” the development, asserting that instead of going to India, the FO should have opted to participate in the meeting via video link.

“Strongly condemn FM visit of Goa, participation would have been possible on video but the problem is you people, in love of Modi, are ready to disregard atrocities committed by Modi Janta in Kashmir and hardships Muslims of India and minorities to make Modi Janta happy. Pak Foreign policy is dead by all definitions of the word,” the PTI leader tweeted.