Two rival nuclear armed states, India and Pakistan, are expected to become members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Wednesday.
According to a statement issued by the Kazakh presidency, Nazarbayev said, "At the upcoming meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council, two major countries — India and Pakistan — are expected to become members of our organization." The two-day Heads of State Council meeting started in the Kazakh capital Astana yesterday.
Nazarbayev said the SCO unites about 40 percent of the world's population. "The main thing is the preservation of the ‘Shanghai spirit,' which is based on the solution of all emerging issues on the basis of consensus," he said. Nazarbayev also said the SCO is a "serious" regional cooperation, established to address economic cooperation between states that are close culturally, territorially and historically.
The two countries will also participate in "joint military exercises" in a move toward counterterrorism cooperation, according to Al-Arabiya reports. The SCO memberships for Pakistan and India were approved in July 2015. The two countries have observer status in the group, along with Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia. The regional pact comprises of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In 2012, Turkey was approved as one of six "dialogue partners" in the organization that was established in 2003 with the aim of promoting cooperation between members and maintaining regional stability.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947, two of them over the disputed Kashmir region. The dispute about Kashmir, one of the oldest on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council along with Palestine, erupted between India and Pakistan in 1947. Since then, more than 94,000 Kashmiris have been killed in clashes.
Iran's membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) security bloc, jointly led by China and Russia is on the agenda. The SCO refused to initiate Iran's accession last year despite a request from Russia which backs Tehran's bid, indicating possible divisions between Beijing and Moscow. Iran has long knocked at SCO's door and Russia has argued that with Western sanctions against Tehran lifted, it could finally become a member of the bloc which also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics.
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