Iran is set to become a permanent member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2023, when India will take over as the chair of the bloc. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in the city of Samarkand on Wednesday to participate in the SCO leadership meeting, becoming the first Iranian president in 20 years to visit Uzbekistan.
This summit would initiate the process of Iran becoming a full member of the SCO by 2023.
Speaking exclusively to India Today, Rahmatulla Nurimbetov, national coordinator of Uzbekistan on SCO issues said, “Most importantly, we will sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iran which opens Iran to be a full member of the SCO during the India chairmanship of 2023 if it fulfils all the obligations.”
Iran signed the commitment document on Wednesday itself for member state status which was announced by Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Twitter. “Now we have entered a new stage of various economic, commercial, transit, energy and cooperation,” he wrote.
He added that the organisation’s secretary general “congratulated” Iran for its permanent accession and called it an “important development”.
The summit will be “historic” since it is entering its third decade, emphasised Rahmatulla Nurimbetov, adding “the next presidency will go to India. India will be the chair for the first time. We are prepared for the transformation of the SCO with a very solid package of documents with new strategic perspectives not only in the traditional areas of security and stability but also development, digital transformation, connectivity and economy.”
Iran acquired observer status in the organisation in June 2005. Its bid for full membership was approved in September last year during the summit in Tajikistan after a wait of almost 15 years.
“The SCO will also see expansion with a decision on the beginning of the process for membership of Belarus. Does not mean Belarus will be full member during this summit, but will begin the process to decide. We will also give ‘dialogue partner’ status to six nations, four of them from the Arab world and the Maldives as well, which is a good neighbour of India too,” he said.
Afghanistan will not be represented at the SCO summit after the Taliban took control of Kabul last year. The national coordinator of the SCO from Uzbekistan said that the SCO does not maintain official relations with Afghanistan after last year’s turn of events and the main issue remains international recognition of the current Taliban dispensation in Afghanistan.
“The SCO has temporarily suspended partnership with Afghanistan, that is, relations between the SCO member countries and the country,” Nurimbetov added.
The SCO bloc, a political, economic and security alliance, was founded by China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 2001 and is recognised as the world’s largest regional organization, with eight members and four observer states.
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