Why permanent membership in SCO is vital for India?

New Delhi, June 10: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit to be held in Kazhak capital Astana on June 15, will see SCO member states adopt a memorandum on the obligations of membership applicants after which, the grouping will formally start consultations with India on acquiring full membership in the grouping, dominated by China and Russia for the last decade.

Negotiations with Pakistan and Iran will also begin once the memorandum is adopted by SCO members during the summit.

The SCO, which was founded to boost regional security and promote economicooperation in 2001, currently has six members-China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,ussia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia have observer status in the grouping.

India and Pakistan had applied to join the SCO as full members last year.

There is no clarity so far about whether full membership would be given to all applicants.

It is learnt that Russia and a majority of Central Asian countries want one of Asia's economic giant India to join the grouping to undercut China's growing influence. China on the other hand desires that it's all weather friend Pakistan to be a full SCO member.

Afghanistan has also applied for observer status in the grouping. External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will represent India at the summit.

SCO members fear that Osama bin Laden's killing could spark off a wave of terrorism in the region having a dominant Muslim population.

The SCO could also play a decisive role in facilitating the return of peace and stability in Afghanistan once the draw down of foreign forces starts in July.

India has been in touch with China and Iran and expressed a willingness to work with all to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan.

A decision could also take place on the ambitious Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline. The TAPI project envisages building a 1,735-km (1,080-mile) pipeline with a total gas capacity of 90 million standard cubic meters per day.

India sees its attendance at this year's SCO summit as crucial to its future role in the decision-making process of the grouping. By Naveen Kapoor

Copyright Asian News International/DailyIndia.com