India joins Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Sushma Swaraj

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) met in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on September 11 and 12  with an agenda to expand the alliance to include India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia, which are all countries with observer status.  

The SCO is an intergovernmental organization of Central Asian countries aiming to promote cooperation between its six existing member states: Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

SCO Attendees

The summit was attended by Presidents of Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran, among others.

By far, India's ascension to membership is the most significant development for the SCO.

Membership will give India, the world's largest democracy and one of the largest energy consumers in the world, a greater say on issues such as combating terrorism and participation in oil and gas projects in Central Asia.

Three current SCO members - Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - are among the largest gas producers in the world.

With expansion, the SCO countries stand to control 20 percent of the world's oil and about half of all global gas reserves. The SCO countries would also constitute about half of the world's population.

In her address, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India was ready to step up engagement with the SCO and hoped that the grouping will be able to meet key challenges like scourge of terrorism facing the region.

In his address, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for coordination to fight extremism and internet terrorism among the SCO members. Xi also proposed that SCO members should begin consultations regarding an eventual “anti-extremism” treaty.

The summit coverage included the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, prospects for creating international transport system, fighting international extremism and drug trafficking, and implementing international energy and agricultural projects and other global issues.