Iran joins SCO


Iran joined a rapidly expanding central Asian security body led by Russia and China on Friday, calling on the countries in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to help it form a mechanism to avert sanctions imposed by the West.

The body, formed in the 2001 as a talking shop for Russia, China and ex-Soviet states in Central Asia, expanded four years ago to include India and Pakistan, with a view to playing a bigger role as counterweight to Western influence in the region. In a sign of its grow ing

influence, the body’s summit in Tajikistan was the first appearance abroad of Iran’s new hardline president, Ebrahimi Raisi, since taking office in August.

Raisi hailed the opportunity that membership would provide for Iran, as a country along China’s “Belt and Road” route, to join important trade links across Eurasia. Iranian television described Iran’s membership as giving it access to huge markets
across the continent.

In his speech to members, Raisi compared sanctions on Iran to terrorism, and said the organisation should design a mechanism that helps Tehran avert them. AGENCIES


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