ASTANA (Kazakhstan), July 5: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Tuesday welcomed Pakistan, India and Iran into its fold and said their inclusion as observers would help the grouping play a positive role in promoting regional and international peace.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who represented Pakistan at the SCO summit, said the country took its new role very seriously and would make all efforts to contribute to the objectives of the organization.

He said Pakistan shared with the grouping the common values of peace and stability.

In a joint appearance before the media after the meeting, Chinese President Hu Jintao said the inclusion of Pakistan, Iran and India would help the SCO play a more positive role in promoting regional peace and common values.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also welcomed the participation of Pakistan, India and Iran.

In his address to the summit, Prime Minister Aziz said: “The SCO today has the potential and the resolve to contribute in a significant manner to harmonious and sustained development of a large part of Asia”.

He said Pakistan had a vital stake in security, stability and well-being of the region and it was among the first countries to seek association with the SCO.

Describing terrorism as a major threat to world peace and stability, the prime minister said Pakistan rejected it in all its forms and manifestations and was a key part of the global coalition against terrorism.

Pakistan, he said, had concluded agreements on counter-terrorism with many countries, including some SCO members.

He rejected the notion of a clash of civilizations, saying: “We are committed to building bridges to promote harmony among cultures.”

The prime minister referred to President Gen Pervez Musharraf’s concept of enlightened moderation and said it also called for a global strategy to resolve long-standing disputes that had caused pain and suffering to the Muslim societies.

He said Pakistan was making strenuous efforts to create a peaceful and secure environment in South Asia.

“We are engaged in a dialogue with India to resolve all issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” he said and added that “our success will ensure for the people of both countries enduring peace and prosperous future.”

Pakistan, he said, was also actively contributing to efforts for peace, stability and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

PROTOCOL SIGNED: Pakistan signed a protocol to help Kazakhstan get membership of the World Trade Organization after talks between Prime Minister Aziz and President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

They agreed to increase trade as the prime minister observed that the two countries could be linked up through the Karakoram Highway, which would also enable the Central Asian state to use Gwadar and Karachi ports.

Prime Minister Aziz emphasized the need for revitalizing the Economic Cooperation Organization.

President Nazarbayev said time was not far when Pakistan would become a full member of the SCO.

Minister of State for Finance Omer Ayub Khan and his Kazakh counterpart signed the protocol.

Talking to the SCO secretary-general, who called on him, the prime minister said Pakistan would send trade delegations to the SCO countries.—APP

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