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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

India may become full-time counter-NATO outfit member

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 28, 2013
First Published: 22:52 IST(28/8/2013) | Last Updated: 13:08 IST(29/8/2013)

Post-2014, Afghanistan has imparted fresh momentum to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) — seen as a sort of counterweight to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) — adding more full members, including India along with Pakistan and Iran, claim sources familiar with the developments.

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Western troops will be pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014, and SCO is being seen as the key regional security architecture as Kabul enters a new phase in its polity.

The SCO Summit in Bishkek in September — where India will be represented by external affairs minister Salman Khurshid —  is likely to discuss the emerging dynamics and expediting proposals to expand its full membership.

India, like Russia, is also keen on Afghanistan, which joined the SCO group much later as an observer and then getting a full membership. The full membership of Turkey, a NATO member, will be debated intensely, sources see decks being cleared for India, Pakistan and Iran.

The SCO members — Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan  —  have a direct stakes in the safety and security of Afghanistan. The same holds true for India.

“India and China have a greater synergy on the stability of Afghanistan and it is evident in the joint dialogue we hold with China on Afghanistan,” said an official.

India’s strategic interest in Afghanistan and Central Asia bring in a sense of urgency for its bid to be a full member of the group.


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