China has stated it hopes Pakistan and India will "improve their relations" after they are inducted as members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) later this month.
Speaking at a briefing in Beijing, the spokesperson of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, stated: "We sincerely hope that after their admission, India and Pakistan will act in strict accordance with the SCO Charter and the Treaty on Long-term Good-neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation, work for the shared goal, conduct friendly cooperation, uphold the Shanghai spirit, improve their relations and add fresh impetus to the development of the SCO."
Founded in 2001, the SCO is comprised of six member states, mainly focusing on military cooperation between the members which involves intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia.
The next summit is slated to be held later this month Astana, Kazakhstan where Pakistan and India ─ who until now have been observers -- will be the first nations to be inducted as members since the formation of the organisation.
Commenting on the seating arrangements of the journalists at the briefing, Chunying said, "I see the journalist from Pakistan sit right here, while journalists from India sit over there. Maybe someday you can sit closer to each other."