UFA: President Vladimir Putin said Friday that India and Pakistan will join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group dominated by Russia and China, which also includes the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
Russia sees the organization, expanding for the first time since its creation in 2001 as a counterweight to Western alliances.
Group membership offers potentially India greater access to the energy resources of Central Asia. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has combined his attendance at the summit in Russia with visits SCO members Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Putin opened the annual summit by announcing the acceptance of India and Pakistan as members. Belarus said obtaining observer status, joining Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia, while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal would be received as “partners”.
The SCO leaders expressed hope that Iran will also soon become a member, but said Tehran had to first reach an international agreement on reducing their nuclear program, Russian news agencies reported.
Putin said some of the biggest security threats facing the region emanating from Afghanistan, noting the increased activity of the group Islamic State. He said the leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation against terrorism and work together to combat drug trafficking from Afghanistan.
The Russian president also spoke about plans to deepen economic and trade ties.
“It is obvious that together we can more effectively resist crisis events in the world economy and finance more easily overcome constraints and barriers of various kinds,” Putin said. “We believe that the development of cooperation in food production, transportation, energy and financial security is important.