Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Iran’s full-fledged membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be decided next week.
During an online briefing on June 30, Lavrov said that in addition to Iran’s joining the SCO, a memorandum on Belarus’s obligations for joining the grouping — which comprises China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan — will be signed on July 4.
Iran gained the status of an acceding member of the grouping in September 2021, while Belarus got the status in September 2022.
The SCO was originally called the Shanghai Five and was created in 1996 to foster confidence along the border between China and four former Soviet republics — Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
The original agreements concerned moving military forces away from the common border area.
Later the group refocused on economic cooperation, which China used to great effect to court better trade ties with the Central Asian states.
In 2001, Uzbekistan joined at a time when Russia was battling Islamic militants in the North Caucasus while Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan were fighting Islamic militants in Central Asia.
The SCO was officially formed at the 2001 summit and the group reoriented cooperation to include the battle against terrorism and extremism.
In June 2017, India and Pakistan became full-fledged members of the SCO.
Mongolia was the first country that received observer status in the SCO at its 2004 summit in the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent.
Afghanistan received observer status in the grouping at the 2012 SCO summit in Beijing, China.
But because the country has been under Taliban’s control since August 2021, the future of its membership in the group remains uncertain as no country has officially recognized the Taliban-led government.
Lavrov also called for a widening of the UN Security Council to give more representation to Asian, African, and Latin American countries in order to break what he claimed was the Western domination of the world.
Source: Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty