India, Pakistan to Join SCO

SCO’s heads of state attend a meeting in the Russian city of Ufa on June 10.SCO’s heads of state attend a meeting in the Russian city of Ufa on June 10.

India and Pakistan began accession to a regional security group led by China and Russia on Friday after two days of summits that Russian President Vladimir Putin held up as evidence Moscow is not isolated in the world.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization, meeting in the Russian city of Ufa a day after the BRICS emerging economies held a summit there, said the invitation to the two Asian nations showed a “multipolar” world was now emerging, Reuters reported.

Those words will have pleased Putin, who says the United States has an outdated vision of a “unipolar” world dominated by Washington and wants to show Russia has not been weakened by western sanctions over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

“The evolution of the SCO is taking place at a complicated stage in the development of international relations and amidst the emergence of a multipolar world,” the group said in a declaration after the meeting.

“These processes are accompanied by increasing security challenges and threats, increasing uncertainty and instability in various regions of the world.”

SCO, which also includes the Central Asian former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, is widely seen as a platform for Moscow and Beijing to project influence in the region.

Until now, it has not been a big force and relations between China and Russia have not developed as quickly as Moscow would like, despite agreement on a major gas supply deal last year.

But Putin saw the signs of unity in the SCO and the BRICS-Brazil, India, South Africa, China and Russia-which agreed to coordinate efforts to keep their economies stable, launched a development bank and agreed on a currency pool.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the expansion of SCO should serve a “springboard” for the organization to become one of the most dynamic in the world.

“The time has come to reach out across the region,” Modi said. “We have everything we need to succeed.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, “President Putin’s efforts will enhance the political and economic scope of the Eurasian belt.”


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