Alwaght- Iran is to sign a binding document next week that will put the country on a direct path to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a powerful bloc of countries that includes Russia and China, says a Russian official.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the official Tass news agency on Saturday that Iranian delegation attending the SCO summit in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on September 15-16 will sign the organization’s Memorandum of Obligations.
The signing of the document will tie Iran to the SCO’s international treaties and will kick-start a process that will end in Iran’s full SCO membership in April 2023.
President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi is expected to travel to Samarkand next week where he will be joined by heads of state from 14 other countries and heads of 10 international organizations.
The President has reiterated on several occasions that his administration’s foreign policy focus is to expand relations with neighboring and regional countries rather than to seek warmer ties with the Western world.
Russia’s Zakharova said in her Saturday remarks that Belarus will formally apply for SCO membership during the bloc’s mid-September summit in Uzbekistan.
The SCO is comprised of Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran, along with Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia, has been an observer state of the bloc.
Experts says Iran’s accession to the SCO will be a major boost to the bloc’s influence in the region mainly because of the fact that Iran’s massive transportation network can facilitate regional and international trade.
Iran is also expected to benefit economically from membership in the SCO. Government figures show trade between Iran and SCO members have surged significantly since the bloc started to consider Tehran’s accession bid last year.