NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday hosts the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, with Iran expected to join the Asian grouping and Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing his first summit since a short-lived mutiny, officials said. Chinese state media reported President Xi Jinping will also attend the virtual summit of the eight-member SCO—headquartered in Beijing but hosted by India which holds the rotating chair—alongside the leaders of Central Asian countries. The Kremlin on Monday said Putin would attend and address the summit, without giving further details.
Last month the head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, led his forces in a failed rebellion against Russia’s top military brass, in a huge embarrassment for the Kremlin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday said “the full membership of Iran” would be approved at the summit, which will be chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Tehran has intensified its diplomacy with friends and foes alike in recent months, seeking to reduce its isolation, improve its economy and project strength. “This membership is beneficial both for Iran and for the organisation,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said Monday, saying it would have “positive effects on economic development” between member nations.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will also take part, calling it an “important forum for regional security and prosperity”, Islamabad’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. Created in 2001 to discuss security and economic matters, other SCO members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with countries including Belarus and Mongolia invited as observers. – AFP