China Reaffirms Backing for Iran's SCO Membership

China Reaffirms Backing for Iran's SCO Membership

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated his country's  support for Iran's accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Iran joined the SCO in 2005 as an observer nd has been knocking at the security bloc's door to become a full member.
Wang made the pledge in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on the margins of the SCO meeting in Astana on Thursday, ISNA reported.
During the two day event, the bloc was expected to grant membership status to observer states India and Pakistan, the first expansion in sixteen years after its 2001 creation by China, Russia and four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.  
The issue of Beijing's backing for Iran's full membership had previously been raised by its Assistant Foreign Minister Li Huilai on Monday.
Li highlighted Iran's positive contributions to the SCO's development and said, "China highly appraises this. China welcomes and supports Iran's wish to become a formal member of the SCO."
"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."

  Change in Tune
The remarks by Chinese diplomats signaled a change in Beijing's tune, which was previously seen reluctant to put Iran's accession bid on the agenda, despite calls from Moscow that the lifting of sanctions on Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal could open the door.
China has close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran, and was also instrumental in pushing through the landmark nuclear accord to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
Zarif also held separate talks with officials from other participating countries, including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and top diplomats of Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.  


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