The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation expects that the upcoming Summit in Ufa will be attended "at the highest level" by India, Pakistan and Iran, SCO Secretary-General Dmitry Mezentsev said at the SCO Press Club Meeting.
He recalled that, along with India, Pakistan and Iran, which have already applied for SCO membership, other states are seeking to obtain the status of observer states and dialogue partners. Applications for observer status have been filed by Syria, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Bangladesh; and recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Maldives applied for dialogue partner status.
"We value and appreciate these applications and the interest in the organisation. This shows that the SCO has gained credibility and influence in the region," Mr. Mezentsev said.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the People's Republic of China Andrei Denisov, who also participated in the meeting, said the accession process for India, Pakistan and Iran could begin this year. "We understand that this process is quite lengthy under the organisation's current rules, but we hope that during Russia's Presidency in the SCO this year, the organisation will take the political decisions necessary to get the process started," he said.
The ambassador also reiterated Russia's support for SCO expansion.