Both China and Russia on Thursday said India will become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) when Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the summit-level meeting in Kazakhstan capital Astana on June 8 and 9. While the Chinese foreign ministry said in Beijing that admission of India and Pakistan as full members to the SCO will be formalised at the political and security grouping’s summit in Kazakhstan next week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in St Petersburg that India will formally become a member of the SCO within a week.
Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are expected to be in Astana, among other leaders from SCO member countries. In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “The member states of the SCO are accelerating the MoU procedures with the two countries and everything is going very well…. We also expect the Astana summit will complete the admission procedures for the two countries.” Hua also hoped that the admission of India and Pakistan as full members would help improve their bilateral relations. “Hope India and Pakistan strictly follow the charter of the SCO and the idea of good neighbourliness to uphold the SCO spirit, improve their relations and inject new impetus into the development of the SCO,” she said.
Hua said the SCO members had launched the process to accept India and Pakistan as members in 2015. She said the SCO will become a regional organisation with the largest coverage. In St Petersburg, Putin said: “As far as our international cooperation goes, one thing I would like to point out, in one week, India is becoming a full-fledged member of the SCO…. I would like to remind that the process was launched in 2015 in Ufa, Russia. Russia has always supported this and given full assistance to it.”
Modi thanked Putin for his “active role” in getting India the SCO membership. “I thank you for all the initiatives taken,” he said. The SCO is a political, economic and military grouping headquartered in Beijing. Founded in 2001, it comprises Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan besides China as full members.
It is aimed at military cooperation between the members and involves intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status. During the 2015 summit in Ufa, Russia, the SCO formally adopted a resolution starting the process to admit India and Pakistan as full members. Both the countries signed a Memorandum of Obligations to join the organisation at last year’s summit in Tashkent.
(with PTI inputs from Beijing & St Petersburg)