Russian President Vladimir Putin says there are no obstacles left for Iran to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a regional security and economic cooperation body led by China and Russia.
“We believe that after Iran’s nuclear problem was solved and United Nations sanctions lifted, there have been no obstacles left (for Iran’s membership in the SCO),” Putin told an SCO summit in the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Friday.
Earlier, reports from the summit said SCO members had failed to initiate the accession process for Iran which expected to make it into the emerging power group after the lifting of sanctions.
“We failed to reach an agreement with our colleagues this time, but the work continues,” special Russian envoy to the SCO Bakhtiyor Khakimov said.
He said there were no objections to the idea of Iran’s full membership “in principle,” but there were “technical nuances” related to the timing which he did not elaborate.
“The Russian position is clear in its support of initiating the SCO admission process [for Iran] without delays, if possible,” Khakimov said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Tashkent early Friday to attend the summit. The country, which has an observer status on the SCO, had sent President Hassan Rouhani to the forum held in the Russian city of Ufa last year.
Iran has long sought membership in the SCO but the group kept the country waiting until it reached an agreement with the US, Europe and other key international players on its nuclear program.
With the addition of Iran, the group would control around a fifth of the world’s oil and represent nearly a half of the global population.
Russian Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are attending the Tashkent summit as is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The organization is expected to get India and Pakistan on its roster even as the two atomic archrivals would have to wait until the 2017 summit for a formal seat among its members.
There is optimism that the entry of India and Pakistan into the grouping will have a sobering effect on the two countries’ strained relations.
The SCO was founded in 2001 and has six full members, namely Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, India, Mongolia, Belarus, India, and Pakistan are also observer members.
At the 15th anniversary of its establishment, the SCO is expected to release a declaration upon finalization in Tashkent.
The SCO has sought unity with the BRICS group of world countries – Brazil, India, South Africa, China and Russia. The two bodies have agreed to coordinate efforts to keep their economies stable, launched a development bank and agreed on a currency pool.
By Press TV