External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is set to come face-to-face with Pakistan Foreign Khawaja Asif in New York next week where both are expected to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit and the SAARC group meetings, on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose hectic international diplomacy has focused on bilateral meetings and visits, will miss the UNGA session again this year, leaving Sushma Swaraj as the standard-bearer.
Apart from the SCO Summit and the SAARC group meetings, Swaraj will also participate in as many as 15 bilateral meetings, including the G77 meeting, the SU meeting, the G4 meeting and the BRICS meeting.
“The EAM has a programme of seven to eight days. She will be reaching here tomorrow. The programme will start from Monday. The highlight of her visit is known to everyone - her speech at the U.N. Assembly will be in the morning of September 23. We have arranged many bilateral meetings, regional meetings and trilateral meetings. As far as I know, there will be at least 15-20 bilateral meetings.
Apart from this, in the trilateral and the regional meetings, there will be a G77 meeting, an SU meeting and a G4 meeting, and also a BRICS meeting. And in all these meetings, the EAM will participate,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
While Kumar said he has no knowledge of any bilateral planned with Pakistan, he agreed that it can happen if Pakistan’s Foreign Minister is present in the regional meetings.
Outlining India's goals that the minister will pursue at the session, New Delhi's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin on Saturday said: "Our agenda is broad, forward-looking, expansive, has objectives which are global in nature, and goals which we have been pursuing for some time."
The formal meetings will begin on Monday with a summit convened by US President Donald Trump to discuss reforming the UN, where she will participate on behalf of India.
The formal round of addresses by the leaders of the 193 member nations will take place on Tuesday. Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to speak on Saturday.
The UN calendar lists more than 100 events for the week on topics ranging from ending sexual abuse to health coverage, and from digital ID's potential to famine response.
(With inputs from agencies)