Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari (centre left) meets his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov (centre right), in Goa, India, on May 4, 2023. — APP

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has assured his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov of bolstering cooperation between the two nations in energy.

FM Bilawal is in Goa, India to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) summit at the invitation of Minister for External Affairs of the Republic of India — the current chair of the SCO.

The meeting between the foreign ministers on Thursday came on the sidelines of the SCO summit, where they discussed “bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest”, a statement from the Foreign Office said.

During the meeting, the foreign minister assured his Russian counterpart to “work closely for further deepening cooperation in food security, energy and people-to-people contacts”.

FM Bilawal said that the SCO opened new vistas of cooperation and coordination with Russia.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said last Thursday that cheap oil imported from Russia would arrive in Pakistan soon.

He made the comments during a National Assembly session in response to the opposition Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) claims that the incumbent government had come into power through a “foreign conspiracy”.

Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik had told Reuters earlier this month that the government had made its first purchase of Russian crude oil, and a cargo would dock at Karachi port in May.

The country imported 154,000 bpd of oil in 2022, mostly from two Middle Eastern countries — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. If Russian imports reach 100,000 bpd, it would mean a significant plunge in imports from the Gulf states.

In a press conference last week, the Maliki Friday that the government would set up a refinery to meet the country’s energy needs.

“Energy is necessary for economic progress,” he said. “Pakistan will be on the road to progress soon.”

He shared that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved the project — which has been in the works for some time — during a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE). The new refinery would cost between Rs10-14 billion.

SCO summit

After landing in India, Bilawal, while speaking to the media, said: “I am happy that I have reached here in Goa to attend the SCO meeting. I hope that the SCO CFM will be a success.”

Bilawal is leading the country’s delegation at the SCO’s Council of Foreign Ministers meeting scheduled to be held from May 4-5 in Goa.

”Our participation in the meeting reflects Pakistan’s commitment to the SCO charter and processes and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities,” the FO spokesperson had said in a statement.

In addition to deliberating upon important regional and international issues and signing some of the institutional documents, the council will finalise the agenda and decisions to be adopted by the 17th SCO Council of Heads of State Meeting scheduled to take place in New Delhi on July 3-4, 2023.

The meeting will also witness the signing of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with five countries namely Bahrain, Kuwait Maldives, Myanmar and UAE to become Dialogue Partners of SCO.

Besides Pakistan, SCO member states include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and India.

SCO’s major objectives include promoting mutual confidence and good, neighbourly relations among member states, strengthening regional peace, security and stability, and creating a framework for effective cooperation in the fields of politics, trade and economy, culture, science and technology, education, energy, transportation, tourism, and environmental protection etc.

Since becoming a member in 2017, Pakistan has been actively and constructively contributing to all SCO activities to realise its multi-sectoral aims and objectives in a mutually beneficial manner.

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