|Iran's foreign minister reiterated his country's aim to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at a meeting with the SCO secretary general on Tuesday. |
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met with Bolat Nurgaliyev, who is on a working visit to Iran, which has observer status in the SCO along with India, Mongolia and Pakistan.
"If all the SCO members decide to expand the organization, Iran is ready to become a full member," Mottaki said.
The minister said his country considers relations with the SCO to be of strategic importance.
The SCO, widely seen as a counterweight to NATO's influence in Eurasia, comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The group primarily addresses security issues, but has recently moved to embrace economic and energy projects.
"Iran's strategy is aimed at cooperation with SCO members in all areas," the Iranian diplomat said.
Iran and Pakistan, who have held observer status in the SCO since 2005, have said they want to become permanent members of the organization, but their requests have yet to be officially considered.
Russia and China have expressed caution over admitting Iran, which is embroiled in a long-running dispute with the West and Israel over its nuclear program and alleged support for radical groups in Lebanon and other countries.
Both China and Russia have major commercial interests in Iran. China wants Iranian oil and gas, and to sell weapons and other goods to the country, while Moscow hopes to sell more weapons and nuclear energy technology to Tehran.
Read also other World News on www.UzReport.uz