View Full Version : Shanghai group unlikely to expand soon - Russian deputy FM

09-06-06, 11:46
MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti) - A Eurasian security bloc comprising five former Soviet republics and China is unlikely to produce any agreements on the accession of new members at a forthcoming summit, a deputy Russian foreign minister said Friday.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization's June 15 summit will bring together the presidents of member nations Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China, as well as the leaders of Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia, which currently have observer status in the alliance, but have expressed interest in becoming full members.
"The issue of the organization's international contacts will be brought up, of course," Alexander Alexeyev told RIA Novosti in an interview. "The leaders of the member states will make decisions. But no sensations should be expected."

However, the bloc is open for cooperation with any interested party, he said.

"There are quite a few possibilities for this, both within the framework of the institution of SCO observers and along the lines of the SOC Tashkent Initiative to build a partner network of multilateral associations in Asia and the Pacific Rim."

In the run-up to the SCO summit, the West has raised concerns over the plans of Eurasia's main security grouping to grant full membership to its observer states, particularly Iran.

Last Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed his surprise that "the leading terrorist nation in the world" was being invited into "an organization that says it's against terror."

The United States and other Western nations suspect Iran of developing a covert nuclear weapons program and sponsoring terrorism, and have threatened with sanctions unless the Islamic Republic halts its uranium enrichment activities.

Officials in Tehran deny the allegations, saying they seek nuclear energy exclusively for civilian purposes.

Russia and China, who dominate the SCO and are both permanent members of the UN Security Council, have opposed U.S.-led efforts to impose sanctions on Iran.

The SCO was set up a decade ago to deal with Islamic extremism and other security threats in Central Asia, but has since expanded its scope to include cooperation in disaster relief and trade.