India seeks larger role in SCO

Astana: India on Wednesday strongly pitched for a "larger and deeper" role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), saying it would like to bring to the table its technical expertise, markets and financial commitment.

"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.