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SCO Grants Afghanistan Observer Status

Saturday 9 June 2012

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization announced it accepted Afghanistan at its annual summit in Beijing on Thursday. The move is intended to boost Afghanistan’s involvement in the six-nation organization’s efforts to improve regional economic integration and combat drug trafficking, extremism and terrorism.

From the Afghan angle, closer relations with the SCO hold the promise of financial benefits and political support from the Eurasian powers. One proof of this was the recent report from the Afghan foreign ministry that Beijing and Kabul are planning to announce that relations “have reached a new strategic level.” Chinese President Hu Jintao told his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai on Friday that China will provide “sincere and selfless help” to Afghanistan, promising to step up trade, aid, investment and security cooperation.

Iran, Mongolia and political rivals India and Pakistan are observers, while Afghanistan was attending the two-day summit as a guest. Turkey has become SCO’s dialogue partner. Earlier, this status was granted to Belarus and Sri Lanka.

Analysts said the SCO was growing in importance as China and Russia expanded their political and military relations. On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin said the two countries had also agreed to build military ties, as the United States turns the focus of its huge firepower towards the Pacific — China’s backyard. In an Interview to The Voice of Russia, Gennady Yevstafiev – retired Lieutenant General of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, explain:

So, what is interesting is that up to now there is no firm or complete common denominator of activities of the members of the SCO. They have their own interests in the area and in the sphere of activity. China mostly gives serious importance to its economic advancement in the Central Asian region and that’s why the Chinese proposals such an attempt to create a Bank of Development and their preparedness to provide $10 billion for the bank and development of the Central Asian countries. And Russia is more inclined on the political element of the SCO.

But there is one thing which unites all the members, but I won’t claim that they really have a well developed concept of how to handle it, this is the situation in Afghanistan and what to do after the NATO and first of all Americans would leave Afghanistan in 2014. Though we have to admit that Americans are not planning to leave Afghanistan for good. They do everything the way they behave everywhere – leaving some place but not entirely and they are trying to have some positions of influence in the area. And in Afghanistan they are also going to leave but they would give about 50 000 troops and all kinds of other elements of cooperation to Afghanistan as a strategic partner.

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