Shanghai Organization’s expansion should include Iran — Russian diplomat

TASS – Iran’s membership at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will have a positive impact on cooperation between the member states of the regional alliance, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said in an interview with China’s Xinhua news agency, published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

The diplomat confirmed that the upcoming SCO summit, to begin in Astana on Thursday, should finally grant full-fledged membership to India and Pakistan.

“Russia is convinced that the first wave of our organization’s expansion should also include Iran, considering its long-term and fruitful participation in the SCO work as an observer state and also the lack of legal obstacles for launching its membership procedure,” Morgulov said.

“It is evident for US that Iran’s joining would have a positive impact on SCO cooperation in all dimensions – in the spheres of security, economy, as well as in the humanitarian domain,” he said.

Morgulov also said that during the upcoming summit, the leaders of the organization’s member states are also expected to make a statement on a joint struggle against international terrorism and sign the SCO anti-extremism convention.

The Russian diplomat also described possible assistance to reconciliation in Afghanistan as one of the alliance’s key tasks.

“A major step in this direction was the consent on Russia’s proposal to resume the activities of the SCO-Afghanistan contact group as the best platform for assisting in restoring peace and security in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” he said. “All member states, along with the government of Afghanistan, have expressed their readiness to take part in such efforts.”

On June 8-9, Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana will host the SCO summit during which the member states are expected to make a final decision on granting membership to India and Pakistan.

The Declaration on the Establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was signed in China’s Shanghai in June 2001 by the six founding states – Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia currently enjoy observer status while Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are dialogue partners. The membership process of India and Pakistan began in 2015.