SCO leaders sign document starting procedure of accession for India and Pakistan

13/07/2015 09:37
Asia-Plus
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DUSHANBE, July 13, 2015, Asia-Plus – Russian media outlets report that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders on July 10 signed in the Russian city of Ufa a document starting the procedure of accession for India and Pakistan that currently have observer status in the SCO.

Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that the document also says that the SCO also elevated Belarus to the status of observer from dialogue partner, and took in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal as new dialogue partners, read the document.

The SCO leaders also signed a declaration on the results of the gathering, in which they reiterated their readiness to continue working on creation of a Development Bank and Development Fund within the SCO and supported China's proposal to create a Silk Road economic belt across the SCO member-states.

The document also called for establishing peace in Ukraine through implementation of the Minsk agreement.

Meanwhile, the leaders approved the SCO Development Strategy until 2025, which set targets and tasks for the organization's development in the upcoming 10 years, Xinhua reports.

The strategy reportedly maps out goals for the SCO member states to conduct cooperation in the areas including politics, security, trade and economy, people-to-people exchanges in the next decade.

Speaking at the SCO summit in Ufa, Russian President Putin noted that a priority is maintaining security within member states and along their borders.  He expressed concern over the situation in Afghanistan -- which borders Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and China -- and said that illegal drug production and the influence of militants associated with the extremist group Islamic State (IS) is increasing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also stressed the importance of assisting Afghanistan in strengthening security.  Xi reportedly said that the accession of other countries such as India and Pakistan would boost cooperation within the group.  He proposed simplified visa issuance for Chinese tourists visiting SCO member-states.

Founded by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on June 15, 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization.  Except for Uzbekistan, the other countries had been members of the Shanghai Five; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organization.

The Organization currently has six full members -- China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are five observer states, and SCO’s dialogue partners include Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

The Organization’s six full members account for 60% of the land mass of Eurasia and its population is a quarter of the world's population.  With observer states included, its affiliates account for about half of the world's population.

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