DUBAI: Iran has moved a step closer towards becoming a permanent member of a central Asian security body dominated by Russia and China, as Tehran seeks to overcome economic isolation imposed by US sanctions.
Foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Thursday said Iran had signed a memorandum of obligations to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which is holding a summit this week in Uzbekistan. The body, formed in the 2001 as a talking shop for Russia, China and ex-Soviet states in Central Asia, expanded four years ago to include India and Pakistan, with a view to playing a bigger role as counterweight to Western influence in the region.
“By signing the document for full membership of the SCO, now Iran has entered a new stage of various economic, commercial, transit and energy cooperation,” Hossein Amirabdollahian wrote on his Instagram page.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was in the Silk Road oasis of Samarkand, Uzbekistan on Thursday to attend the summit. He held a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian state TV reported. Last year, the central Asian security body approved Iran’s application for accession, while Tehran’s rulers called on members to help it form a mechanism to avert sanctions imposed by the West over its nuclear programme.
Iran will now be able to take part in the body’s meetings, although it is likely to take some time to achieve full membership, deputy secretary-general of the organisation Grigory Logvinov told Russian state TV, which also reported the signing.
Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2022