New Delhi will invite Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit when it hosts the event later this year, a senior Indian official has said.
“India will be hosting the heads of government summit later this year. As per established practice and procedure within SCO, all the eight members, as well as four observer states and other international dialogue partners, will be invited,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.
The SCO is a China-led economic and security bloc to which India and Pakistan were admitted in 2017. India is hosting the SCO summit for the first time.
A final decision on whether Khan attends the meeting, scheduled for October, is to be made by Islamabad. In past years, countries have sometimes sent their foreign ministers instead of their heads of government, officials said.
If Khan decides to come, it will be his first visit to India as prime minister, setting the stage for a meeting with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and a possible thawing of ties.
Tensions have been running high between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours since a suicide bombing by a Pakistan-based rebel group killed 40 troops in Indian-administered Kashmir in February last year, prompting retaliatory attacks from India.
In August, India’s decision to revoke the special constitutional status of its part of Kashmir and impose a lockdown on the region further spiked tensions between the two nations, who have fought two of their three full-scale wars over Kashmir.
Kumar said the particular meeting is conducted annually at the prime ministerial level with a focus on multilateral economic and trade cooperation.