Iran makes formal bid to become full member of SCO : Minister

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Moscow, Mar 24 (UNI) Iran has formally applied to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said today in Tajik capital Dushanbe.

''Tajikistan supports us in this issue,'' Mr Mottaki told RIA Novosti after his talks with the Foreign Ministers of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Currently, Iran has an observer status in the regional security group, together with India, Pakistan and Mongolia. The group primarily addresses security issues.

Last August, the SCO member states, including Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, held a large-scale anti-terrorism exercise, for the first time, in Russia's south Urals.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently denied that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was a military bloc and highlighted its increasing role in economic cooperation.

''The SCO today is an organisation tackling political and economic issues, and the economic aspect is increasingly coming to the foreground,'' he said dismissing its comparisons with NATO as ''baseless''.

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