Iran joins the Asian security apparatus led by Russia and China

Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev meets with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi before the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 14, 2022. Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Posted via Reuters

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DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran is close to becoming a permanent member of a Central Asian security apparatus dominated by Russia and China as Tehran seeks to overcome economic isolation imposed by U.S. sanctions.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabad Lahian said Iran had signed a memorandum of commitment to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is holding a summit this week in Uzbekistan.

The body was formed in 2001 as a discussion board for Russia, China and the former Soviet states of Central Asia, and expanded four years ago to include India and Pakistan, with the goal of playing a larger role as a counterweight to Western influence in the region. .

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“By signing the document of full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Iran has now entered a new phase of economic, trade, Hebrew and energy cooperation,” Hossein Amirbadollahian wrote on his Instagram page.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was at the Silk Road Oasis in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Thursday for the summit. Iranian state television reported that he held a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last year, the Central Asian Security Service accepted Iran’s request to join, while Tehran’s hard-line rulers called on its members to help it set up a mechanism to avoid Western sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme.

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Deputy Secretary-General of the organization, Grigory Logvinov, told Russian state television, which also announced the signing, that Iran will now be able to participate in the meetings of the body, although it will likely take some time to achieve full membership.

Iran’s economy has been hit hard since 2018, when then US President Donald Trump abandoned Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, including Russia and China.

Months of indirect talks between Iran and the administration of US President Joe Biden have come to a standstill due to several obstacles to reviving the nuclear deal, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

US sanctions and growing concerns about an emerging US-backed Arab-Israeli Gulf bloc that could shift the balance of power in the Middle East away from Tehran have prompted Iran’s clerical rulers to pursue closer economic and strategic ties with Russia, which itself has been subject to sanctions. on the invasion of Ukraine.

Iranian state media quoted Raisi as saying during his meeting with Putin that “Iran is determined to strengthen its relations with Russia, from the economic to the space and political fields.”

He said, “Cooperation between Tehran and Moscow can significantly nullify the restrictions imposed by the US sanctions on our two countries.”

In July, just days after Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia, Putin visited Tehran on his first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Putin said on Thursday that a delegation of 80 large companies will visit Iran next week, in another sign of growing ties with Iran, the state-owned RIA news agency reported. Read more

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(Parisa Hafezi reports). Editing by Frank Jack Daniel

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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