Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Russian MP proposes full SCO membership for Iran

RIA Novosti:
A deputy speaker of the Russian parliament Wednesday proposed that Iran be granted full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

"Iran wants to become a permanent member [of the regional security organization] and we must assist it to enhance the SCO and protect Iran," said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who also heads the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). READ MORE

Iran, which currently holds observer status in the organization along with Pakistan, India and Mongolia, has already received an official invitation to attend the SCO summit slated for June 15 from China, the organization's president this year.

"We have been officially invited by China," a high-ranking source in the Iranian Embassy to China said Wednesday.

But the source did not say whether a final decision had been made on Tehran's announcement Monday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted to attend the summit.

Pakistan has also stated that it wants to join the other full members of the group - Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan - and President Pervez Musharraf has been officially invited to attend the Shanghai meeting.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ruled out putting the issue on the summit agenda Tuesday, given the escalating crisis over Iran's controversial nuclear program.

"I do not link the Iranian president's intention to attend the SCO summit with efforts being made to solve the Iranian nuclear issue," Lavrov said.