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India will invite Pak PM Imran Khan for SCO meet: Officials

India will invite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the annual meeting of the council of heads of government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) it will host this year, people familiar with developments said on Tuesday.

However, a final decision on whether PM Khan attends the meeting, which will likely be held later in the year, will be made by Islamabad, the people cited above said.

“According to protocol and convention, an invitation will be extended to the Pakistani Prime Minister. It is up to Pakistan whether their Prime Minister or some other representative attends the meeting. Besides, there is still a long time before the meeting,” said a person who declined to be named.

India is hosting the meeting of the council of heads of government of the SCO for the first time, the grouping’s secretary general Vladimir Norov told reporters on the margins of an event in New Delhi on Monday.

There have also been instances of the foreign ministers of countries attending the SCO heads of government meetings in the past, the people said.

Norov, who arrived in New Delhi on Sunday on a four-day visit, has held talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar. It was not immediately clear whether Pakistan’s participation in the SCO meeting figured in the discussions.

“Received Secretary General #ShanghaiCooperation Organization Vladimir Norov. Reviewed the progress in our cooperation as India prepares to take up the responsibility of chairing the Council of #SCO Heads of Government,” Jaishankar had tweeted.

Norov said on Monday all SCO members are glad that India is hosting the SCO heads of government meeting this year. India is an important country in the region and has huge potential for fuelling economic growth, he said.

He said the event will be preceded by a number of meetings in India including the meeting of the SCO ministers of economic activities.

India was an observer at the SCO since 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.

India and Pakistan both became full members of the SCO in June 2017 and New Delhi’s entry into the China-dominated grouping increased its heft.

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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