Kazakh Leader Supports Iran’s SCO Entry

Kazakh Leader Supports Iran’s SCO Entry
Kazakh Leader Supports Iran’s SCO Entry

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev says Iran's accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will help enhance the status of the international body.    

He made the remark in a panel discussion at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on Friday.  

The Kazakh leader said the SCO will soon be joined by India and Pakistan, and after that, it will be Iran's turn to join the bloc.

"Thus, this organization that will unite three billion people is becoming very powerful. Isn't it beneficial to anyone to cooperate with such an organization?" Russia Today quoted him as saying.

Founded in 2001, the SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and military organization, whose full members are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Other countries holding observer status with the organization include India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Belarus.

India and Pakistan applied to join the organization in 2005, but the process of their membership was launched only last year. At the next SCO summit, scheduled to be held later this month in Tashkent, the two Asian neighbors are expected to formally join as full members of the bloc.

  Path Clear  

Iran gained observer status in 2005 and submitted its request to join in 2006, but the international sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear activities kept the issue on hold.

With the removal of the punitive restrictions under the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which went into effect in January, China and Russia, the two key members of the organization, have supported Iran's accession.  

Late last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China backs the idea of Iranian membership. "We fully endorse Iran's interest in this issue."  

Earlier this month, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov announced Moscow's support for Iran becoming a full member, hoping that the issue would be raised in the Tashkent meeting.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will represent Iran at the SCO gathering in the Uzbek capital.