IRAN JOINS, BELARUS NEXT
Iran joined as a full member of the grouping on Tuesday, with Tehran having intensified its diplomacy with friends and foes alike in recent months, seeking to reduce its isolation, improve its economy and project strength.
Tehran’s membership will support “collective security … expanding ties and communications (and) strengthening unity”, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said.
Alongside summit host India, other full members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Russian ally Belarus, which holds observer status, was also told it would become a member at the next SCO summit.
Iran’s membership feeds concerns of some Western critics worried about “Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran coming together, so there is a collection of countries that are inherently anti-Western in their orientation”, said Harsh V Pant, a professor with King’s College London.
But he said SCO was not that organisation.
“If this kind of an axis is to be formed, it will be formed independent of the SCO, because the Central Asians and countries like India do not see SCO as inherently anti-West,” Pant told AFP.
On Tuesday, China’s Xi warned against “colour revolutions” and a “new Cold War”, according to a state media readout of his speech to the SCO summit.
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