Islamabad (Staff Report): Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will leave for Russia today (Thursday) to participate in the 16th meeting of the Council of the Heads of Government (CHG) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at Sochi from November 30 to December 1.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi accepted the invitation of Prime Minister of Russian Federation D.A. Medvedev for participation in SCO 's Heads of Government meeting .

This is the first SCO Heads of Government meeting that Pakistan will participate in after assumption of full membership in June this year. The meeting is mandated to focus on the strategy, prospects and priorities for SCO’s developmental cooperation.

The SCO now comprises eight member states: Pakistan, China, Russia , India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It has four observer states: Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia and six dialogue partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

SCO objectives include building mutual trust, equality, respect for cultural diversity and good-neighborly relations. It aims to promote effective cooperation in the areas of political, security, trade, economy and social sectors. SCO Regional Anti Terrorist Structure (RATS) contributes towards regional peace, security and stability.

PM Abbasi will participate in the SCO Retreat being hosted by the Russian Prime Minister with his other SCO counterparts. The Retreat will be followed by a Plenary Session of the Council of Heads of Government where PM Abbasi will deliver a statement. At the plenary, the Prime Minister will outline Pakistan’s commitment to SCO’s objectives including fighting terrorism and extremism and its sincere interest in regional peace, stability and development. The meeting will close on a signing ceremony of decisions and Joint Communique by the heads of delegations.

The Prime Minister will also hold important bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit.