MOSCOW, June 8 (Xinhua) -- International organizations and countries in the world, including the European Union and the United States, have shown growing interest in working with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Russian expert says.
Alexander Lukin, director of the Center for East Asia and SCO Studies at Moscow State University for International Relations, made the remarks in a recent interview with Xinhua ahead of the 10th SCO summit.
The upcoming SCO summit, set for June 10-11 in Uzbek capital Tashkent, will discuss important regional and global problems, issues of strengthening stability and security in Central Asia, and expansion of SCO contacts with multilateral organizations.
At the Tashkent summit, the SCO presidency will be passed on to Kazakhstan. During Uzbekistan's presidency, the SCO made progress in its cooperation with the United Nations, NATO and other organizations, drawing interests from some other international bodies and countries, Lukin said.
"At the previous summit, new partners for dialogue had been introduced and given to Belarus and Sri Lanka. It shows the growing interest to the SCO in the world," Lukin said. "Also, the SCO offered the United States the status of an observer or a partner for dialogue. The EU, Japan show their interests too."
Founded in 2001 in Shanghai, China, the SCO groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, covering an area of more than 30 million square km with a population of about 1.5 billion. Since the SCO initiated an observer mechanism in 2004, Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran and India have become observer states of the bloc.
Lukin said the summit this year would probably discuss a regulation, which will set up standards for other countries to join the organization.
"If the regulation will be agreed upon, the issue of expansion of the SCO could be discussed. Iran and Pakistan, currently observers, have already applied to join," Lukin said.
However, Iran could unlikely be accepted as a country under UN sanctions, Lukin said.
The world's growing interest in the SCO may be attributed to the achievements reached by the regional organization, especially in security cooperation, he said.
"There are some visible success in the area of security cooperation. Inside the SCO, one of its main bodies is the anti-terrorism structure with its headquarters in Tashkent," Lukin said.
"In March 2009, a conference on Afghanistan was held in Moscow, in which the UN secretary-general and representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe took part. Now the SCO is playing an active role in solving the issue," the expert said.
He also said that the fight against drug trafficking is high on the SCO's agenda.
"Tajikistan had offered to create a center for fighting drug trafficking in a bid to prevent drugs from Afghanistan from being smuggled into other countries," Lukin said.