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Iran Inches Closer to Seeking Full Membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

By Nigar Bayramli September 15, 2022

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The leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states plan to adopt 28 documents at the summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on September 15-16, 2022. / Akipress.com

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has signed a memorandum of obligations, a key step in becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in a meeting with Secretary General of the SCO Zhang Ming.

"We have now entered a new stage of diverse cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, transit, energy and so on," Amir-Abdollahian said in a Twitter post on September 14.

The Iranian foreign minister accompanied Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Samarkand, Uzbekistan to participate in the SCO summit.

On the sidelines of the SCO summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with his Iranian counterpart on September 15 that Russia is very happy that Iran will soon join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

"As we agreed with you, we have done everything for Iran to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Our partners in this organization have supported your application, all that is left is one last formality. It is indeed a formality, and Iran is joining this already serious, large and authoritative international organization," Putin said, according to TASS.

Putin added that Moscow’s and Tehran’s stances are quite similar on international issues. "Interregional ties are developing. We actively cooperate in the international arena and on many [points] our positions are close, or, as diplomats say, coincide," he noted.

President Raisi told the SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming on the sidelines of the summit that "Iran is ready to cooperate with Shanghai Cooperation Organization and member countries in various fields". 

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani also praised the signing of the memorandum, saying on 15 September that it was "another important and lasting development in strengthening neighbourhood policy, regional convergence and deepening multilateralism".

Iran's permanent membership is one of the topics on the agenda of the participating countries in the Uzbekistan summit. Iran currently holds observer status in the organisation and the country is on track to become a full member in April 2023.

Iran’s permanent membership was approved during the 21st Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO in the Tajik capital Dushanbe in September 2021. The country obtained observer status in the organization in June 2005, and in 2008, applied for full membership.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and security organization and was founded in 2001. The current members of the organization are China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The observer countries are Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia; the partner countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Türkiye, and Sri Lanka. The current SCO summit in Samarkand is expected to finalize the admission of Iran and grant the status of a dialogue partner to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.