RFERL– Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev says his country supports Iran’s full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Atambaev made the statement on December 23 in Bishkek after holding talks with visiting Iranian President Hassan Rohani. SCO member states are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, while Iran has observer status.
Tehran applied for full SCO membership in March 2008, but membership was denied due to UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
After the UN sanctions were lifted in January under an international agreement addressing concerns that Tehran could develop nuclear weapons, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced support for full membership for Iran in the SCO.
Rohani visited Armenia and Kazakhstan before arriving in Bishkek on December 22.
After talks with Atambaev, Rohani said that the meeting focused on Iranian investments in the Kyrgyz economy, gradual introduction of visa-free travel between the two countries, and joint efforts against terrorism.
Rohani said they also discussed cooperation between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union, a regional grouping that comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.