Afghanistan wants to join 6-nation Shanghai alliance as observer

Afghanistan has applied for an observer status in the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which will consider the application at its summit in June, Russia’s foreign minister said on Saturday.

The security alliance, which includes Russia, China and former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is gathering for its annual 15th summit in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, on June 15.

“Afghanistan has recently asked for an observer status, and this issue will be considered at the upcoming summit,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Observer countries in the organization are India, Pakistan, Mongolia and Iran.

Lavrov said India and Pakistan had applied for membership, which would also be discussed at the summit.

The foreign ministerial council of the SCO countries is meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s second city, on Saturday to prepare documents for the summit.

The Russian minister said two documents would be considered at the event: the Astana declaration focusing on the international situation, and the anti-drug strategy for 2011-2016.

Lavrov said drug trafficking was a serious threat for SCO countries and added that observer nations could be actively involved in the anti-drug strategy.

A survey on Drug Use in Afghanistan, issued 21 June 2010 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), showed that around one million Afghans aged 15-64 suffered from drug addiction. With the figure making eight percent of the population, this rate is twice the global average.

ALMATY, May 14 (RIA Novosti)

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