Iran Set to Secure Membership of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation

Iran is anticipated to secure membership of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO), an influential regional entity, next week. This assertion comes from Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, and is expected to bring Iran into closer cooperation with countries such as China, Russia, and a host of Central Asian nations.

Mr Lavrov made the announcement on Friday, during the inauguration of an SCO centre in Moscow. “The full membership of Iran will be approved at the meeting of heads of state on July 4,” he stated.

Known as the globe’s largest defence and security organisation, the SCO consists of eight countries including China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia currently hold observer status.

The Russian Foreign Minister also shared insights into various geopolitical issues in a news conference. He addressed the operations of the Wagner Group in Africa, the 2018 alleged poisoning of a defector, and recent developments in Ukraine.

Mr Lavrov criticised Western countries for what he termed as “brazen pressure” applied on African and Latin American nations, coercing them into siding with sanctions against Russia due to its involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.

Discussing the role of the Wagner Group, a private military company reportedly linked to Russia, he stated that it would be the prerogative of African countries to continue their engagement with the group.

Recent tensions involving the Wagner Group escalated into a brief rebellion, which was suppressed last weekend. The outfit, commanded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, operates in several African nations including Mali and the Central African Republic.

Mr Lavrov refuted allegations of deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine by Russia’s armed forces. He pointed the finger at Ukraine, accusing them of positioning military resources near civilian areas like schools and residential buildings.

The Foreign Minister further rebutted claims by Ukraine and its Western allies that Russia was endangering the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, accusing Kyiv of spreading “pure lies.”

In addition, he mentioned recent enquiries from Russia to the UK about the location of Sergei and Yuliya Skripal, a former double agent for Britain and his daughter, who the UK alleges were poisoned by Russian agents in Salisbury in 2018 – a claim Moscow consistently denies.

Image Credit: India Prime Minister Office

Tags : Iran