SCO foreign ministers meet in TajikistanJuly 25th, 2008 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS
Pugus (Tajikistan), July 25 (RIA Novosti) Foreign ministers of the six Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states gathered in this Tajik countryside Friday to discuss security and peace in the region and its future role. The meeting is expected to adopt a joint statement on the bloc’s performance in 2007 and to set new tasks for expanding cooperation.
The meeting will also decide on whether to admit new members or set up mechanisms for a partnership dialogue for other nations to join.
The SCO has maintained a moratorium on new members for two years now.
Iran and Pakistan, observer states at the SCO since 2005, have sought full membership in the regional bloc, widely seen as a counterweight to NATO’s influence in Eurasia.
Russia and China have been cautious over admitting Iran, embroiled in a long-running dispute with the West and Israel over its nuclear programme and alleged support for radical groups in Lebanon and other nations.
China and Russia have major commercial interests in Iran.
China wants Iranian oil and gas, and to sell weapons and other goods to the country, while Moscow hopes to sell more weapons and nuclear energy technology to the Islamic republic.
The group, which includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, primarily addresses security issues, but has recently moved to embrace various economic and energy projects.