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SCO to admit Iran as a full member; Belarus applied for membership: SG Zhang Ming

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Beijing, Jul 15 (PTI) The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is all set for expansion with Iran joining the grouping as its ninth member while Belarus has applied for membership, its Secretary General Zhang Ming said on Friday.

The decision to admit Iran was made in last year’s Dushanbe summit and Belarus has submitted its application, Zhang told a media briefing here ahead of the grouping’s summit to be held in Samarkand in Uzbekistan on September 15-16.

He said Iran will become a full member after completing the formalities while Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states who follow the system of consensus in deciding admission of new members will take a call on Belarus’s application.

This is the first expansion of the SCO after India and Pakistan were admitted to the grouping in 2017.

The Beijing-headquartered SCO is an eight-member economic and security bloc consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

When asked whether Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the Samarkand summit, Zhang said so far, all participating countries have confirmed the attendance of their leaders but the format of attendance is not finalised.

The SCO summits in the last two years were held in the virtual format due to COVID-19.

Xi has not travelled outside China since the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan towards the end of 2019.

He visited Hong Kong on July 1 this year to take part in the 25th-anniversary celebrations of handing over of Hong Kong to China from British rule.

All members wish to switch to the traditional way of the summit which is more effective, Zhang said.

“At the same time, the epidemic situation is changing and there are new variants emerging. So, there are a lot of uncertainties now, he said.

“I cannot predict but all members have positive and good hopes. Samarkand summit will be a milestone for the SCO”, he added.

Zhang, a senior Chinese diplomat however dismissed the premise that the SCO expansion is akin to that of NATO, (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), which is being expanded in the shadows of the Russia-Ukraine War.

The significance of this round of expansion is that it shows SCO’s rising international influence and that the principles of the SCO charter are widely accepted, he said. The expansion of NATO is totally different as the SCO is a cooperative organisation based on non-alignment and not targeting a third party, while NATO is based on Cold War thinking, he said.

The SCO believes one should not build its security at the expense of other countries while NATO is creating new enemies to sustain its own existence, he said.

The SCO member states are thinking of how to adapt to the profound changes that the international situation is undergoing so as to make the international order fairer and more reasonable, he said.

There has been discussion in the international arena that the trend of non-alignment is back, he said, adding that SCO is opposed to the approach of group politics.

Samarkand summit is expected to have agreements on connectivity and high-efficiency transport corridors and a roadmap for local currency settlement among member states, he added. PTI KJV VM AKJ VM VM VM

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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