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05 July 2024, 10:20

FM: Lukashenko had much more meetings at SCO summit than media covered

ASTANA, 5 July (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has held plenty of meetings and negotiations, including informal ones, during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Maksim Ryzhenkov told reporters following the summit, BelTA has learned.

“The president had a very busy agenda. The negotiations, which were covered by the press, are just the tip of the iceberg as a great number of his meetings on the sidelines of the summit were not reported on. There were a lot of unofficial events. “On-the-go” meetings were held with the leaders of almost all delegations,” the foreign minister said.

The Belarusian leader had a series of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Astana summit.

“The president had an opportunity to discuss the state and prospects of bilateral relations and align positions with many state leaders,” the foreign minister said.

For example, at the meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the parties outlined an action plan for the coming months that should culminate in a summit and the signing of a cooperation roadmap. This will be preceded by contacts at the level of the prime ministers, ministers, and members of the intergovernmental commission.

Cooperation prospects were also discussed at the meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. There are agreements to hold a number of bilateral events at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Finance Ministry. “During visits to Belarus, a number of projects will be discussed in a bid to ramp up bilateral trade,” said Maksim Ryzhenkov.

According to him, Aleksandr Lukashenko had a productive meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders discussed fundamental issues of bilateral cooperation and the work on them will continue at the level of the foreign ministers and the heads of government. Important visits are expected. All the necessary instructions have already been given by the two leaders.

China will take over the SCO presidency, therefore it will host the next SCO summit in 2025. This will be a good opportunity for the heads of state to meet again in person and, if necessary, discuss specific aspects of bilateral relations.

Aleksandr Lukashenko met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Journalists asked the minister to provide details of this meeting.

“During the meeting with the UN secretary-general, a wide range of issues were raised. I have seen reports claiming that we were criticized for something, like human rights. In reality, almost the entire meeting was centered around the UN activities in the Republic of Belarus, the start of a new cycle of interaction,” said the foreign minister. “Guterres highlighted the fact that the Republic of Belarus is a very reliable partner in the implementation of all the UN goals and objectives. Much attention was paid to the Sustainable Development Goals. The secretary-general emphasized repeatedly that he is happy about the progress Belarus has made to implement these goals across all the areas. It was said that there are no complaints against Belarus.”

Maksim Ryzhenkov emphasized that there is no “special case” against Belarus at the UN, and certain critiques the country were voiced as side remarks and in the form of advice.

The minister said that he also had a series of contacts with foreign counterparts during the summit. For example, he met with the foreign ministers of Russia and India.

“The SCO countries have about 40% of the world’s population and about a third of the economic potential. This is a powerful group of countries, and participation in this kind of summits is important. They give an opportunity to thrash out plans to promote cooperation in politics, trade, economy, and culture and to discuss industry-to-industry interaction in agriculture, economy, security and other areas, as well as public initiatives,” the minister remarked.

He noted that the SCO became a transcontinental organization after Belarus’ accession as a full member, because before it had no member states whose territory was located exclusively in Europe. “We have bolstered the international standing of the organization. This marks the expansion of the organization’s diplomatic presence into Europe, which can be used as a springboard for further development and growth. Our goals are noble and fair,” the foreign minister emphasized.
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