MOSCOW, July 6. /TASS/. Egypt has submitted an application for a dialogue partner status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said on Monday.
"The SCO secretariat on July 2 received an application for a dialogue partner status from such a big country as Egypt," Ushakov told journalists.
The decision to start the process of expanding the security bloc grouping Russia, China and four ex-Soviet states in Central Asia and to grant full membership to India and Pakistan would be taken at a summit in Russia’s city of Ufa later this week, he said, adding that the SCO secretariat had already received eleven applications for observer or dialogue partner status from various countries.
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 have the lesser status of dialogue partners.