MOSCOW, June 17. /TASS/. Russia believes that Pakistan’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will benefit both the South Asian country and all members of the security grouping comprising Russia, China and four ex-Soviet states in Central Asia, the leader of Russia's parliamentary lower house said on Wednesday.
"We assume that the political decision to launch the process of Pakistan’s accession to this authoritative international organisation will be made at the upcoming SCO summit, which is due to be held in Russia’s Ufa on July 8-9," State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin told Pakistan's army chief General Raheel Sharif at a meeting in Moscow.
"I am sure that both the SCO and Pakistan will benefit from this decision," he said.
Relations between the two countries have a special place among Russia’s foreign policy priorities, Naryshkin said, noting that "our cooperation has a particular and intrinsic value".
"Certainly, we support Pakistan’s government in its fight against terrorism and religious extremism," he said.
Speaking about relations between Russia and Pakistan, Naryshkin noted that "the past year was very productive in terms of promoting Russia-Pakistan dialogue and fostering contacts between relevant agencies". Inter-parliamentary cooperation developed as well, he said.
"We are satisfied with the level of our cooperation in international organisations, primarily in the United Nations," he added.
Sharif said he was confident Pakistan "will continue cooperation with Russia in all spheres, and particularly in the fight against drugs".
Russia, China and four Central Asian nations - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - formed the SCO in 2001 as a regional security bloc to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan.
Last year, India and Pakistan, which have observer status in the organisation together with Mongolia, Iran and Afghanistan, submitted applications for full membership. Iran also seeks to become a full-fledged member. Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey are "dialogue partners".