SCO set to expand at upcoming summit  

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In an article published on his official website, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev expressed confidence that the event scheduled for September 15-16 will “mark the birth of a new stage” in the organisation’s history…reports Asian Lite News

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is set to expand at its upcoming summit in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, the host nations President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has announced.

The SCO is the largest regional bloc in the world, comprising eight members including Russia, China and India.

In an article published on his official website on Monday, Mirziyoyev expressed confidence that the event scheduled for September 15-16 will “mark the birth of a new stage” in the organisation’s history.

“The number of [SCO] members will grow, and its future agenda will be formed, and this is highly symbolic,” the leader of the Central Asian nation wrote.

There are currently eight full members of the group: India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

Two countries — Iran and Belarus — are in the process of joining the SCO and have observer status, along with Afghanistan and Mongolia.

Mirziyoyev believes the Samarkand gathering will be remembered for the launch of “a new, inclusive dialogue”.

In a world suffering from a “deep crisis of trust” and geopolitical confrontation, the SCO should become “a pole of attraction without dividing lines, in the name of peace, cooperation and progress”, he stated.

One of the key goals of the SCO is to expand its cooperation with Afghanistan which, Mirziyoyev believes, “should try on a new peaceful mission of connecting Central and South Asia”.

The SCO encompasses 40 per cent of the world’s population, and more than 30 per cent of global GDP.

In September 2021, the SCO had launched technical procedures for Iran’s admission. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Special Envoy for SCO Affairs, Bakhtiyor Khakimov, said at the time that the accession process would take a considerable amount of time.

Belarus was the latest country to apply for SCO membership. Its bid was announced by Khakimov in June this year, RT reported.

Modi-Sharif meet unlikely  

Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has no plans to meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) being held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, this week.

“No meeting is envisaged with the Indian Prime Minister,” Foreign Office spokesman Asim Iftikhar told Dawn news.

An official said though a brief courtesy meeting between the two was possible, they would not be holding talks saying none of the two sides have sought a meeting.

The Foreign Office in a statement, however, confirmed that Prime Minister Sharif would attend the 22nd annual Meeting of the Council of Heads of State (CHS) of SCO.

“Besides attending the summit, the Prime Minister will hold bilateral meetings with other participating leaders on the sidelines of the CHS,” it said.

The Pakistani leader will be participating in the CHS meeting on the invitation of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who would chair it.

The leaders of SCO members and observer states as well as the heads of SCO organisations and other special guests would attend the meeting.

The CHS is the highest forum of the SCO, which considers and defines strategy, prospects and priorities of the organisation.

At the forthcoming CHS, the SCO leaders will deliberate on important global and regional issues, including climate change, food security energy security, and sustainable supply chains.

They would also approve agreements and documents that would chart the future direction of cooperation among SCO member states.

The SCO is a major trans-regional organisation spanning South and Central Asia.

Founded in 2001, the SCO upholds the values and principles enshrined in the “Shanghai Spirit” that include mutual trust, mutual benefit and pursuit of common development, Dawn reported.

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