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Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Afghanistan seeks full-fledged SCO membership

Moscow recently hosted a meeting of the Contact Group of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). At present, Afghanistan has SCO observer status and would like to become a full-fledged member like India and Pakistan, which joined the organization recently. Kabul hopes that would facilitate cooperation with Russia and China to help it fight the Taliban (outlawed in Russia), Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

However, given the Moscow meeting’s importance, its participants cannot fail to take into account Washington’s stance, which has plans to boost its contingent in Afghanistan by 4,000-4,500 troops.

Senior Research Associate at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Vladimir Sotnikov, told the paper that Afghanistan is seeking full-fledged SCO membership hoping that Russia and some Central Asian countries will help Kabul stabilize its domestic situation. Besides, it expects to expand cross-border trade with those Central Asian countries that are the members of the organization.

Despite the fact that Afghanistan is Washington’s closest ally in Southwest Asia, the government of President Ashraf Ghani believes the SCO is a good platform for overcoming some kind of international isolation and developing military-technical cooperation with Russia, China and Kazakhstan, which could supply weapons to Kabul.

As for the United States, the analyst noted that it regards Afghanistan as its foothold. That’s why Afghanistan’s SCO membership could be out of tune with Washington’s interests. On the other hand, the US would not hinder Afghanistan’s accession to the SCO, he added.

SCO Afghanistan