Shanghai Cooperation Organization Meets in Beijing

While not being full members, several countries participate as observers, with some having the aim of becoming full members in the future. Current observers are India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. Although Iran reportedly applied for full membership in March 2008, sanctions levied by the United Nations have blocked the country from admission. Pakistan has made a bid to gain full membership, which has been endorsed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and will no doubt be a topic for discussion on the SCO summit agenda.

India’s External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will be participating in the 12th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, where he is expected to promote his country for full SCO membership. While in Beijing, Krishna will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang for a thorough review of bilateral ties between India and China. With Li being tipped to take over from current Premier Wen Jiabao, the meeting is considered to be significant. Later this year, Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao will retire after a ten year term in power. Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to take over as China’s President.

In an interview ahead of the summit, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping was reported as saying that countries seeking SCO membership should work towards legal, political and technical requirements for membership. In addition to observer nations, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meetings as guest nations, with Belarus and Sri Lanka having dialogue partner status.