Iran signed a memorandum of commitment Wednesday for its permanent membership in the powerful regional grouping the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian announced in a Twitter post late Wednesday that he signed the document for his country’s full membership in the organization ahead of the SCO summit in Uzbekistan, which begins Thursday.
"Now we have entered a new stage of various economic, commercial, transit, energy, etc. cooperation," the top Iranian diplomat wrote.
He hastened to add that the organization's secretary general "congratulated" Iran for its permanent accession and called it an "important development.”
The Eurasian political, economic and security alliance was founded by China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 2001 and is recognized as the world's largest regional organization, with eight members and four observer states.
Iran acquired observer status in the organization in June 2005.
Its permanent membership in the powerful organization was approved in September last year during the summit in Tajikistan after a wait of almost 15 years.
The technical and legal processes, which generally take time, began soon after, with President Ebrahim Raisi hailing it as one of his government's diplomatic masterstrokes.
On Wednesday, he became the first Iranian president in 20 years to visit Uzbekistan, with his country set to end the lengthy wait.
Before leaving for the Uzbek city of Samarkand, where the SCO summit will be held, Raisi described the purpose of his visit as the "reinforcement of the policy of good-neighborliness, convergence, solidarity, and promotion of multilateralism."
"In the first step of developing the neighborhood policy, we were able to strengthen mutual political trust in the region," he said. "In the second step, we are pursuing the effective role of Iran and its active presence in the region."
On Iran's permanent membership in the SCO, he said his government had approved the documents following a review and the legal procedures were currently underway.
Raisi said Iran seeks to benefit from "the infrastructure that exists in Asia and the neighboring countries" as an SCO member.
Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi told reporters in Tehran that the draft outlining Iran's SCO membership had been submitted to the country's parliament for approval.
The SCO summit will be held Thursday and Friday and brings together top world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
"The world is coming to Samarkand" is the theme for the annual meeting this year, hosted by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
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