China Backs Iran's SCO Accession

China Backs Iran's SCO AccessionChina Backs Iran's SCO Accession

China supports Iran's membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, jointly led by China and Russia, and the subject will be discussed at the group's summit this week, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday.

The SCO refused to initiate Iran's accession last year despite a request from Russia which backs Tehran's bid, indicating possible divisions between Beijing and Moscow.

Iran has long knocked at SCO's door and Russia has argued that with western sanctions against Tehran lifted, it could finally become a member of the political, economic and security bloc, which also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics.

Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Li Huilai said Iran is an observer at the SCO and has for a long time "proactively participated" in its activities and has made positive contributions to the SCO's development.

"China highly appraises this. China welcomes and supports Iran's wish to become a formal member of the SCO," he told reporters, ahead of the summit in Kazakh capital Astana which President Xi Jinping will attend, Reuters reported.

"I think that at this meeting all sides will continue to conscientiously study the issue of Iran becoming a member on the basis of the SCO's relevant rules and consensus through consultations."

China has close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran, and was also instrumental in pushing through a landmark 2015 deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan formed the SCO in 2001 to fight threats posed by radicalism and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.

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