SCO summit may allow India, Pakistan to become regular members

The SCO, a China-dominated security grouping, may open its doors for new members at the summit meet this month paving way for India and Pakistan to become regular members, a senior Chinese official indicated on Friday.

Beijing: The SCO, a China-dominated security grouping, may open its doors for new members at the summit meet this month paving way for India and Pakistan to become regular members, a senior Chinese official indicated on Friday.

Final decision to open the membership as recommended by the Shanghai Corporation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers meet would be taken at the Summit meeting to be held in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe between September 12-13.

Hinting that a decision on new member states would be taken at the meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang told a media briefing: "We believe that the members states of SCO will have serious discussion on the relevant issues during the summit in Tajikistan and make positive progress on issues concerning absorbing new member states and establishing rules for the organisation."

"Relevant countries have shown their willingness to join SCO. We believe that it demonstrates the vitality of SCO. It needs further development," he said.

The move to open the membership could enable India and Pakistan, which are currently observers to become regular members.

Significantly, Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to travel to South Asia after the SCO Summit and could convey the decision to Indian leadership during his visit to New Delhi in the third week of this month.

SCO was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia have observer status.

Russia has been pushing for India's membership for long, while China adopted a cautious approach considering its strategic implications.

Observers say that China and other SCO states which focussed on enhancing anti-terrorism cooperation in view US plans to leave Afghanistan wants to rope in India and Pakistan to beef-up and enlarge the alliance.

The SCO states in recent years intensified anti-terrorism drills and they have just concluded an elaborate exercise in China's Inner Mongolia region.

For its part, India has shown interest to join the grouping as it would provide more active role for it in Central Asia.

 

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