Sep 14, 2021 16:25 UTC
  • President to visit Tajikistan for SCO summit, Iran’s full membership on agenda

President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, on his first foreign visit since taking office last month, will travel to Tajikistan this week to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit.

According to Press TV, the visit comes at the invitation of Tajikistan, the rotating chair of the SCO this year, which has fully backed Iran for the full membership of the Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance, which was launched in 2001 by China, Russia, and the Central Asian republics.

The annual summit of the grouping that comprises eight member countries will take place from September 16 to 17 in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe and will be in hybrid mode.

Iran, which acquired observer status in the multilateral organization in June 2005, is expected to make a strong pitch for permanent membership in this week’s summit, with the support of Russia.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh, in a press briefing on Monday, said the visit will pursue two aims: participation in the SCO summit and delegation-level talks between Iran and Tajikistan.

“The president’s office and the Foreign Ministry are working on extensive plans about both aspects,” he said. “Necessary arrangements have been made by Dushanbe and the Iranian Embassy in Tajikistan.”

He further said that Iran’s request for full SCO membership will be considered during the summit, expressing hope for a desirable outcome.

The debate about Iran’s full membership of the multilateral body gained momentum recently after Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani said that the path has been paved for the fulfillment of the longstanding demand.

Following his telephone conversation with Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev in August, Shamkani, who heads the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, said Iran will soon join the SCO, pointing to Russia’s support.

“Fortunately, the political obstacles to Iran's membership in the Shanghai agreement have been removed and Iran's membership will be finalized through technical formalities,” he said in a statement.

It came weeks after Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin at a press conference in Dushanbe said his country will back a decision to admit Iran to the SCO if there is consensus.

In recent weeks, many countries have come forward in support of Iran’s bid, including Russia and China.

China has also thrown its weight behind Iran’s full membership of the SCO. Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his recent telephone conversation with President Raeisi asserted that Beijing’s support was in line with the organization's long-term interests.

Raeisi, on his part, called China's strategic plans, such as The Belt and Road Initiative, in Iran's interest, and pledged commitment to full implementation of the Iran-China comprehensive cooperation pact.