Iran eyes membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Tehran, Sep 5 (IANS) Iran is eyeing full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) since it entails mutual benefits, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation, founded in 2001 in Shanghai by leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

It now has China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its full members, with Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers, and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey as dialogue partners.

Iran, Belarus and Turkey have previously expressed interest in working with or joining the organisation.

In a meeting with visiting Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev on Saturday, Rouhani pointed to Kyrgyzstan’s “inclination” for Iran’s full membership in the SCO, saying that Iran’s membership would also be in the interest of both countries, reports Xinhua news agency.

Rouhani said Tehran is set to facilitate visa regulations for tourism purposes as well as for cultural and scientific contacts.

Both countries will also have intelligence and political cooperation to counter terrorism and extremism in the region and in central Asia.

Iran and Kyrgyzstan are mulling a 10-year plan to strengthen their bilateral ties, Rouhani said.

For his part, Atambayev said “we support Iran’s efforts for membership, and we are sure that this will help the organisation elevate its economic capabilities and its infrastructures.”

Over the past years, political and trade relations between Iran and Kyrgyzstan have been more or less even and somewhat relaxed.

Iran mainly exports clothing, nuts, paints and flooring to Kyrgyzstan and imports meat, grain and steel scraps.

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