Islamabad, Nov 2 (UNI) Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri will represent the country at the meeting of the council of heads of government of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that opens in Tashkent today.
Pakistan has been invited to the summit as an observer nation, a status it acquired in the regional security grouping in 2005. Foreign Minister Kasuri will make a statement at the plenary session. He is expected to meet the Uzbek leadership and his Chinese counterpart.
The decision to send Kasuri in place of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has been taken at the highest level in view of the volatile political and security situation in the country, Dawn newspaper reported.
He will be leading a four-member delegation comprising senior foreign ministry officials.
The summit, which will focus on trade and economic matters, is being attended by prime ministers of six member states which include Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.
''The meeting at Tashkent will seek greater economic interaction among the member states and observers and encourage linkages, inter-alia, between the ECO and the SCO and utilisation of the SCO to strengthen greater understanding with the members of the organisation, including Central Asia and Russia,'' the foreign minister's office said.
''The meeting will review economic cooperation among member states and cooperation in the fields of transport, telecommunication and energy,'' it added.
The frequent high-level interaction facilitated by the SCO, has helped raise Pakistan's profile in the region and enable it to be seen as a state with a stake in the stability and security of the region.
The SCO is widely perceived as a counterbalance to the growing US influence in the region. Although the organisation's primary focus has been combating terrorism, religious extremism and separatism, it also covers political, economic and cultural issues.
The SCO meeting of the council of heads of government deals with trade, economic matters while the council of heads of sate focuses on strategic direction and security.