External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar ditched the customary handshake for the Indian ‘namaste’ to greet his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, China’s Qin Gang and other foreign ministers on their arrival at the venue of the India-hosted conclave of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Friday (May 5).
While Jaishankar flagged off the two-day SCO Council of Foreign Ministers on Thursday (May 4) by hosting a reception at the Taj Exotica Resort in Goa’s Benaulim, the main deliberations took place on Friday.
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The external affairs minister greeted each visiting foreign minister with a namaste and there was no handshake.
At Thursday evening’s reception, Jaishankar shook hands with his Pakistani counterpart like he did with others, according to a few people who are part of Bhtutto-Zardari’s entourage.
Bhutto-Zardari landed in Goa on Thursday, becoming the first Pakistani foreign minister to visit India in almost 12 years.
In 2011, Pakistan’s then foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited India and held talks with her then counterpart SM Krishna.
India hosted the SCO foreign ministers’ conclave in its capacity as the current chair of the grouping.
The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations.
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The bloc was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.
India was made an observer at the SCO in 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 has shown a keen interest in deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
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(With inputs from agencies)