Russia supports Iran joining SCO: Lavrov

TEHRAN, Jan. 18 (MNA) – While US is urging other nations to isolate Iran, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow supports full membership for Tehran in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Just days after Iran fired missiles at military bases in Iraq, Russia’s foreign minister has reiterated that Moscow supports full membership for Tehran in an Eurasian security bloc sometimes viewed as an aspiring counterweight to NATO and the West, according to CNS News.

Speaking at a geopolitics forum in New Delhi, Sergei Lavrov noted that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) includes China, five former Soviet republics (Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan), India, and Pakistan.

“Iran is an observer and we are supportive of the Iranian request for full membership,” Lavrov said. “And most of the [SCO] countries support this request and I’m sure this would be satisfied.”

Russia holds the bloc’s rotating presidency this year and will host its annual summit in July.

Over the SCO’s two-decade lifetime, membership has expanded beyond the original six autocracies, with India and Pakistan become full members in 2017 and Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia enjoying observer status. But Russia and China continue to dominate it and largely call the shots.

Asked for a reaction Wednesday to Lavrov’s comment about Iran joining, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang was noncommittal.

“I understand Iran, already an observer of the SCO has long been participating in relevant events,” he said. “With regard to SCO expansion, China will stay in close communication with other members and make decisions together.”

Russia and China held their first-ever joint military exercises with Iran in the Persian Gulf at the end of last month. Days later, Iran’s Qods Force chief Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a US airstrike in Baghdad.

SCO members account for more than one-third of the global population, owing to the participation of China, India, and Pakistan, countries with the world’s largest, second-largest, and sixth-largest populations respectively.

In 2005, the bloc’s leaders rejected a request from the United States to become an observer. At the same time, they agreed to give observer status to Iran, as well as to India and Pakistan.

MNA/PR

News Code 154685

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