The Beijing-based Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Friday took the decision to induct India as a full member of the strategically-important bloc.
India, which has had an observer status for the last 10 years, will technically become a member by next year, after the completion of requisite formalities.
The SCO currently has China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as members. Alongside India, the process to include Pakistan as a member was also initiated here on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the annual Summit by announcing the acceptance of India and Pakistan as members.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded with an offer to work with the six-member grouping to enhance connectivity, combat terror and create an environment for boosting trade by easing barriers. “I convey our deep sense of gratitude to the members of SCO for accepting India as a full member,” Modi said after the announcement was made at the Summit. Our membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is “a natural extension of the relationship that India has with member countries” and “mirrors the region’s place in India’s future”, he said.
Modi, who attended the SCO Summit shortly after his bilateral meeting with Sharif, congratulated Pakistan for joining the SCO. “I also take this opportunity to congratulate Pakistan on joining the SCO,” he said.
Membership in the group potentially offers India greater access to the energy resources of Central Asia. The Prime Minister said the membership also advances the shared vision to reconnect and integrate Eurasia’s different region.
Significantly, Modi has combined his attendance at the Summit in Russia with visits to SCO members Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The inclusion of both countries into the SCO has also triggered some degree of concerns among members, primarily on the grounds that any confrontation between the two nuclear-armed neighbours at some point could pose a roadblock for the group to reach any agreement over major issues. India was made an observer in the SCO in 2005 and it made an application last year for full membership of the grouping whose focus is on connectivity, counter-terrorism cooperation, bolstering cooperation in energy sector, enhancing trade and dealing with drug trafficking.
“We will work with SCO to combat terrorism and extremism that is a rising threat to the entire region. A stable and peaceful Afghanistan is a future that the Afghan people richly deserve, but it will also advance peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” the Prime Minister said.
“As we look forward, we would lend our support to improving transportation and communication networks in the region. We can create a vast network of physical and digital connectivity that extends from Eurasia’s northern corner to Asia’s southern shores. The International North South Transportation Corridor is a step in that direction,” he said. During his address, President Putin had announced that Belarus would obtain observer status, joining Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia. The Russian President also called for greater cooperation in fighting drug trafficking from Afghanistan and the financing of terrorism.
Pakistan to be included too
* Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded with an offer to work with the grouping to enhance connectivity, combat terror and create an environment for boosting trade by easing barriers.
* Process to include Pakistan as a member was also initiated.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the annual summit by announcing the acceptance of India and Pakistan as members.