ASTANA (TCA) — Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov chaired the regular session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States (SCO CFM) on 21 April in Astana. The meeting was a final preparatory stage for the SCO Summit to take place on June 8-9, 2017 in Astana, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said.
“Kazakhstan is chairing the SCO since June 2016. You know main priorities of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship within the Organization, outlined by President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the previous meeting of the SCO Heads of State. This includes regional security strengthening, economic cooperation development, transit and transport capacity unlocking, deepening of cultural and humanitarian ties in the context of the SCO Development Strategy 2025,” Abdrakhmanov said.
The ministers discussed the completion of the accession process of two new SCO members. Participants consider that full-fledged membership of India and Pakistan will start a brand new development and multifaceted cooperation stage. It will also strengthen international influence and credibility of the Organization, the ministry said.
Sputnik news agency quoted Abdrakhmanov as saying that Kazakhstan is ready to approve Iran’s application for full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
“We again express our readiness to approve Iran’s [application for] full membership in SCO. We hope that soon member states will also approve applications of Iran and other SCO partners for full membership and observer status,” Abdrakhmanov said at the SCO ministerial meeting.
Iran currently has an observer status within SCO. In 2008, the country applied for full membership, but the organization refused to consider the application amid UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
The SCO is a political, military and economic alliance founded by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan in 1996, with Uzbekistan joining as its sixth member state in 2001. In June 2016, the SCO members signed memorandums on India and Pakistan’s accession, the process for which will be finalized at SCO summit in June 2017. Among the alliance’s observer states are Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia, while Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Armenia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka have dialogue partner status.