Qureshi phones SCO secretary general, invites him to visit Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a telephone conversation with the Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Vladimir Norov, and invited him to visit Pakistan as soon as the situation arising out of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is normalized.

The invitation was extended to the SCO secretary general when the foreign minister phoned him on Monday and exchanged views on adopting an effective strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and facing the challenges posed by it.

The SCO secretary general accepted the invitation with gratitude, and also thanked him for the call.

Vladimir Norov expressed appreciation for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s proposal for debt relief and restructuring for developing Countries and said that financial support for developing countries was the need of the hour.

The secretary general conveyed his best wishes to the government and people of Pakistan in successfully facing the challenge posed by the Pandemic and reiterated his resolve to utilize all possible means to ensure effective use of SCO in coordinating efforts of Member States to combat the Pandemic.

The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi briefed the SCO Secretary General on the measures being taken by Pakistan to contain COVID-19 pandemic. He said that Pakistan attached high importance to SCO as its member states comprised more than 40% of the world population and accounted for a quarter of global GDP. At a time when the entire World was facing this challenge, coordinated efforts through the SCO platform were essential to adopt an effective strategy to control the Pandemic.

Qureshi said that China was providing valuable support to Pakistan in dealing with the Pandemic. Underlining that China had led the way in effective containment, and a lot could be gained from learning from the Chinese experience, the Foreign Minister appreciated SCO Secretariat’s role in disseminating timely information on China’s effective response to the Pandemic.

The foreign minister also lauded the Russian initiative to hold a Video Conference of the Experts of Health Ministries of SCO member states on April 1, 2020. In addition to coordination and collaboration in relief and containment efforts, Foreign Minister Qureshi called for pooling of region-wide research capabilities to combat the disease. He informed the SCO secretary general that in order to strengthen regional cooperation in South Asia in the wake of the Pandemic, Pakistan had proposed a Video Conference of SAARC health ministers to learn from each other’s experiences.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed the hope that SCO will play an effective role in taking the proposal forward through its own platform.