Pakistan and India have reportedly become permanent members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a group dominated by Russia and China and also including former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
Membership in the group potentially offers Pakistan and India greater access to the energy resources of Central Asia.
Putin opened the annual summit on Friday by announcing the acceptance of India and Pakistan as members. He said Belarus would obtain observer status, joining Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia, the Associated Press reported.
The Russian president called for greater cooperation in fighting drug trafficking from Afghanistan and the financing of terrorism.
Earlier on Thursday, the Russian president had assured the Indian premier India’s accession into the SCO.
“We are beginning the process of full-fledged inclusion of India into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation,” Putin told Modi during talks in the Russian city of Ufa.
The SCO groups China, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, while Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping had earlier told a news briefing that “…India and Pakistan’s admission to the SCO will play an important role in the SCO’s development and it will play a constructive role in pushing for the improvement of their bilateral relations.”
Chinese President welcomes SCO expansion
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday welcomed the planned expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and called on member states to uphold the “Shanghai Spirit” for common development, Xinhua reported.
While addressing the summit, he said China believed that admission of new forces into the SCO will inject new impetus into the organisation’s all-ranging cooperation.
The Chinese President also urged SCO member states to expand people-to-people exchanges, saying that China will invite 200 young people from the SCO member states every year to participate in a youth exchange camp program, which will be held in China from 2016 to 2021.
Separately, during his meeting with President Xi, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thanked him for the support China had extended to Pakistan to become a member of SCO.
Originally published at: The Express Tribune