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Pakistan wants to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization


MOSCOW, October 27 (RIA Novosti) - Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Thursday his country wanted to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

"This organization is of immense strategic importance," the prime minister said.

Pakistan, along with India, Iran, and Mongolia, currently hold observer status in the regional organization that comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Aziz said the SCO was a venue for opinion exchange, which was extremely helpful for the participants. He said the organization's motto could be: "We will help each other help ourselves."

Aziz said that according to standard practice, Pakistan would remain an observer for some time before joining the SCO as a full member.

The premier said the organization was a useful economic, strategic, and diplomatic tool in combating terrorism. At the same time, he said the SCO did not address bilateral issues at the moment and did not play a role in the Pakistan-India settlement.

"The SCO mandate does not stipulate military cooperation on a multilateral basis," Aziz said. "However, some members are allowed to develop bilateral military cooperation and have done so."

He added that if the SCO conducted military exercises like those performed by Russia, China, and India recently, Pakistan would consider participating.

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