Moscow: A process of India’s and Pakistan’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will be officially launched at the SCO summit due to be held in the Russian city of Ufa in July, according to SCO secretary general Dmitry Mezentsev.

“I believe the process will kickstart in Ufa,” Mezentsev told reporters at a meeting of the SCO Business Council board in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, TASS news agency reported.

“First, a meeting of the foreign ministers’ council took place in Moscow following very professional consecutive work at the floor of national coordinators and at this stage a draft agenda of the summit is presented, where this issue had been put on,” he added.

Mezentsev said that “bids of India, Iran and Pakistan had been submitted earlier and now these countries are SCO full-fledged observers”. 

India’s latest written bid for membership was “submitted by the country’s president in September last year ahead of the summit of heads of state”, the SCO secretary general said.

He recalled that “the country bidding for full-fledged membership should meet the requirements prescribed in all documents of the organisation, including in the SCO Charters”.

“But along with this, the country that is granted with the right to join the SCO has to become a signatory under the organisation’s 27 regulations, part of which has a status of national law for SCO member countries.”

Mezentsev noted certain restrictions for Iran’s possible accession to the SCO.

“In the SCO legal framework there is a provision that a status of a full-fledged member envisages that the country should comply with a number of regulatory acts, in particular the country should not be under the UN Security Council’s sanctions,” he said.

On June 3, foreign ministers from the SCO member countries held a council meeting chaired by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov resulting in a joint statement. It said: “Preparations for the summit of the SCO member countries due to be held in Ufa on July 9-10 were on the table” and that “a decision to launch a procedure of India’s and Pakistan’s accession to the SCO as member countries will be crucially important”.

The SCO is a permanent regional international association established in Shanghai on June 15, 2001. The SCO announces joint counteraction to terrorism, extremism and the boosting of cooperation in energy, oil and gas, transport, telecommunications and other sectors as its top priority.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are the current member countries, with Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan having the status of observers, and Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka of dialogue partners.

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