Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu are expected to attend a key meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to be hosted by India next week under its presidency of the grouping, people familiar with the development said on Saturday.
There is no confirmation yet on in-person participation of Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif in the SCO defence ministerial meeting scheduled for April 27 and 28, they said, adding he is likely to join the deliberations virtually.
The people said defence ministers of China, Russia and other SCO member countries except Pakistan have confirmed their in-person attendance.
However, there was no official announcement on the participation at the defence ministerial meeting by the SCO member states.
The visit by Li, if it takes place, would come amid the three-year border standoff in eastern Ladakh. The SCO defence ministerial meeting in New Delhi would be followed by the foreign ministerial meeting of the grouping in Goa on May 4 and 5.
Foreign ministers of all SCO countries, including Pakistan's Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, are scheduled to attend the meeting. Pakistan has already announced that Bhutto Zardari would travel to India to attend the meeting.
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The SCO defence ministers' meeting is set to delve into various issues relating to regional security, including the threat of terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan. The meeting will be chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The SCO member countries are India, Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.
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