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ASTANA, June 15. /TASS/. Increasing the number of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will strengthen its capabilities to ensure security, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov told TASS in an interview.
"Accession of new members will definitely expand the potential of our Organization in resolving pressing economic problems and will give a powerful impetus to ensuring security and stability in the region," Idrissov said.
According to the foreign minister, one of the relevant topics at the upcoming session of the Council of SCO leaders in Tashkent "is expected to be the issue of expanding the Organization." "In particular, we are talking about the negotiations process on accepting India and Pakistan to SCO. At the end of the Tashkent summit, it is planned to sign memorandums on commitments of India and Pakistan with the aim of receiving a status of SCO member states and relevant resolution of the Council of Heads of State of SCO member countries," he explained.
The minister said that "Iran definitely plays an important role in sustainable development in the Middle East, in Central Asia and Transcaucasia." "Kazakhstan repeatedly expressed readiness to positively consider the issue of full-fledged membership of this country in SCO, the possibility for which will open by practical implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on settling the Iranian nuclear problem," Idrissov said.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent regional international association, the establishment of which was announced on June 15, 2001, in Shanghai. The organization brings together Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
During the SCO summit in Ufa on July 9 and July 10 last year the start of the admission procedure for India and Pakistan was announced. The leaders of the SCO member countries also decided to grant Belarus observer status, while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal became dialogue partners.
SCO priority spheres include joint fight against terrorism and extremism, cooperation in the spheres of education, energy, transport, and telecommunications. The total population of SCO countries is almost 1.6 billion people, and the total GDP of the member countries is $11.6 trillion.