Iran’s joining SCO on agenda: Russian official

IRNA – Iran’s joining to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) remains on the agenda, a senior Russian official said on Monday.

According to TASS Russian News Agency, Bakhtiyor Khakimov, president of the Asia-Pacific Cooperation Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry said that one of the charter’s principles is the openness of the SCO.

‘The first step in expanding the membership of the SCO has already been done. Of course, this process will continue. The admission of India and Pakistan does not mean that the doors to the organization have been closed,’ the diplomat added.

The process of incorporating India and Pakistan into the work of the SCO is underway as some technical issues need to be tackled, according to Khakimov.

Russia will host the next meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the SCO member states scheduled for November 30 – December 1.

The procedure for admission and granting the status of a SCO member state to India and Pakistan was completed at the organization’s summit in Astana in June.

The SCO, established in 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, conducts multilateral cooperation between the member states on national security, military, economy and culture.

The SCO members now are China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and newly accepted India and Pakistan.

In addition to the eight member states, the SCO has four observer nations – Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan and Belarus – and six dialogue partners, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Iran applied for membership in 2008. The barriers for its accession to the SCO were removed with the lifting of the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council.