India seeks 'larger' role in SCO

India seeks 'larger' role in SCO

"Ten years since its founding, the SCO faces a historic moment. Like other successful multilateral organisations, it must choose the path of its evolution," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said at the 11th Summit of the SCO here in the capital of Kazakhstan.

He said the draft of the Memorandum of Obligation being discussed by this Summit would pave the way for expansion of the organisation in a natural process of its evolution.

"India would be happy to play a larger and deeper role in the SCO when the rules and criteria for full membership are clear. We value the role of the SCO in bringing security, stability and development to our region and stand ready to contribute more to the SCO for the common good of the people of our region.

"We have friendly ties with all the member states and we wish to bring to the table our technical expertise, markets and financial commitment, all of which equip us to fulfil greater responsibilities in this forum," Krishna said.

The SCO was set up in 2001 as a security counterweight to NATO that could allow Russia and China to rival US influence in Asia. However, increasingly, it is looking to cooperate at an economic level.

The six-nation SCO comprises China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan attend its meetings as observers. 

Krishna said SCO members and observers could cooperate more in the future on regional and global threats arising out of climate change, environmental security, food security, energy security, particularly non-conventional sources of energy and other emerging issues which require a joint response for sustainable development.

"India stands ready to make a constructive contribution in these areas," he said.
The Minister said connectivity among the SCO countries is in fact central.

"One bottleneck to trade and economic activity among the SCO members and observer countries is the lack of viable transport linkages," Krishna said.

"SCO can address the problem of limited connectivity through regional solutions and break barriers that inhibit trade and investment flows between our countries," he said.

India is ready to cooperate with member countries to find viable solutions to this problem and contribute to the endeavour to build bridges between Central and South Asia, the Minister said.

He said India attaches great importance to association with the SCO and values the consistent and mature contribution made by the organisation to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

"India has demonstrated its strong commitment to the SCO by participating constructively at SCO meetings open to Observers.

"It is of great importance to us that most SCO member countries are our neighbours or belong to our extended neighbourhood, with a strong historical and cultural legacy of centuries binding us together," Krishna said.

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