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KHANTY-MANSIYSK, March 10. /TASS/. The legal aspect of expanding the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has been coordinated, now a political decision needs to be taken at the level of leaders of SCO member-countries, the organization’s Secretary General Dmitry Mezentsev told TASS on Tuesday ahead of the X session of the SCO Forum due to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk on March 11-12.
"The issue of expanding SCO will be discussed in the nearest future," Mezentsev said. "There are no legal hurdles or inconsistencies in the organization for that," he added.
Last year, at a summit in Tajikistan’s Dushanbe, "two historic documents were signed which fully outline the legal aspects of expanding SCO," Mezentsev reminded. In particular, a new memorandum on granting a full-fledged SCO membership and accepting new members was adopted.
"Considering the procedure of launching accession [to SCO], it may only be started after leaders of the SCO member-countries take a political decision," Mezentsev said, adding that such a decision may be announced at the SCO summit in Russia’s Ufa in summer.
The issue is currently being considered at an expert level in the framework of the working group set up on Russia’s initiative with participation of representatives of all SCO member-countries. The process of obtaining a full-fledged membership in the organization envisages recognition of the existing legal base and ratification of all 28 agreements in the framework of the SCO.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in February he hopes a political decision on expanding the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be taken at the organization’s summit in Ufa.
Lavrov reminded that an issue of organization’s expansion will be on the agenda at the meeting. "Corresponding criteria for candidates for accession were approved at last year’s summit. We will have to review applications from a number of countries, including India and Pakistan," Lavrov noted.
The minister added that Iran filed an application for accession to SCO as well. "I hope that progress in the settlement of the Iranian nuclear program will help consider it [the application]," he stressed.
"The process of accession [to SCO] is rather lengthy," Lavrov said. "A candidate will have to sign two or three dozens of SCO documents and ratify them," he noted.
"I hope, and there are all reasons for that, that a political decision will be made in Ufa on launching the expansion process," the minister noted. "We share the understanding with Chinese colleagues and other SCO members on this issue," Lavrov concluded.