Russia welcomes Iran's involvement in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), but a moratorium on new members is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, a top Russian diplomat told the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti on February 20.
Iran has been seeking full SCO membership since early last year. But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin, who has just wrapped up a working visit to Iran, dismissed the idea of Iran being admitted this year. He said that Tehran's current observer status within the six-member security organization presented "no difficulties or obstacles" to meaningful participation.
"The Russian presidency of the SCO this year sees even more opportunities to [involve] observers in the work of the SCO," Borodavkin said. "But I must say that the SCO has maintained a moratorium on the admission of new members and it is likely to persist for some time."
The next SCO summit will be held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on June 15-16. Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on February 16 that Iran hoped to become a fully fledged member of the organization this year. Full membership would provide Tehran with a mutual assistance guarantee in the event that it came under attack by a foreign state.