Shanghai Cooperation Organisation considers adding Iraq, Pakistan
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Last Updated: Thursday, February 04, 2010, 20:31
Beijing: The conflict in Afghanistan and expanding its membership to include Iran and Pakistan are key issues facing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the coming year, its new head said.

"In the current global context, the top priority is finding a solution to the Afghan issue," said Secretary-General Muratbek Sansyzbayevich Imanaliev during a press conference in Beijing yesterday.

The fear is that instability within Afghanistan's borders, where Taliban fighters are challenging the US and NATO-backed government of Hamid Karzai, could well spill over into neighbouring countries.

The SCO is a security grouping dominated by Russia and China that also includes the four Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

"All member countries of the SCO are making active contributions to the Afghanistan issue, including economic cooperation and energy support," he said.

Imanaliev said the security bloc is assessing membership applications submitted by Tehran and Islamabad. The group is currently reviewing its criteria for new membership. He did not specify when a decision would be made on their bids.

He said member states are planning to step up cooperation on regional security issues, particularly the anti-terrorism effort, as well economic cooperation.

A summit among the six member nations is planned in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, later this year, though no date has been set.


First Published: Thursday, February 04, 2010, 20:31

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