NEW DELHI: While India’s diplomacy has been restricted to virtual meetings and conferences after the Covid-19 outbreak, the government is considering a proposal by Russia to have a physical meeting of the foreign ministers of SCO and Brics countries on September 10. If it happens, foreign minister S Jaishankar will come face to face with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, and also Pakistan’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi, for the first time after the current border standoff was first reported in early May.
After finalising the date, Russians have also conveyed to India and others that they want a physical meeting and not a “mere formality” in the form of a virtual conference.
These meetings will be held in run up to the SCO and Brics summits expected in St Petersburg later in October. The summit meetings have been delayed this year because of Covid-19. NSA Ajit Doval may also attend a meeting of NSAs ahead of the foreign ministers’ meeting but that hasn’t been finalised yet. An Indian delegation is also expected to participate in Russia’s International Military-Technical Forum Army-2020 in last week of August.
Official sources said a decision was still awaited on India’s participation in the proposed meeting in Moscow. India has maintained high-level visits will have to wait at least until September. Like India, Pakistan too is now a full member of SCO. While it’s unlikely that India will have any substantive dialogue with Pakistan, if the foreign ministers indeed have a physical meeting, it will be interesting to see what sort of bilateral engagement Jaishankar and Wang have on the margins.


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