PM to attend SCO summit virtually.

ISLAMABAD -- Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will participate in the 23rd Meeting of SCO Council of Heads of State (CHS) being held in video conference format on July 4.

The invitation to the prime minister to attend the SCO-CHS was extended by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in his capacity as the current Chair of the SCO, according to a PM Office statement.

At the forthcoming CHS, the highest forum of the SCO, the leaders would deliberate on important global and regional issues and chart the future direction of cooperation among SCO member states.

This year, the SCO CHS would also welcome Iran as a new member of the organisation. The prime minister's participation in the CHS illustrates the high importance that Pakistan attaches to the SCO, as an important forum for regional security and prosperity, and enhanced engagement with the region.

In a surprise move, India has decided to host the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit virtually in the first week of July - raising the question as to why New Delhi is avoiding hosting regional leaders in person.

India is the current president of SCO, which comprises Russia, China, Pakistan and key central Asian states. The Indian external affairs ministry had said in a statement that the summit would be held virtually on July 4.

'Under India's first-ever Chairmanship, the 22nd Summit of the SCO Council of Heads of State will be held virtually on July 4, 2023, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the chair,' the Indian external affairs ministry statement had read.

No reason was given for the decision but observers believe that there may be multiple factors. One reason could be China. It was not clear whether Chinese President Xi Jinping was to travel to New Delhi in July. Both the Chinese and Russian presidents are set to attend the G20 summit in...

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