Kazakhstan against Shanghai Cooperation Organization's expansion

Kazakhstan is against the enlargement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the present stage.

"Kazakhstan finds it necessary to temporarily refrain from SCO enlargement through permanent members and observers, because the organization lacks the legal basis regulating the procedures for admitting new members. It also has no set criteria for granting observer status," Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev said at a regular meeting of the council of the SCO member states' foreign ministers in Shanghai on Monday, 15 May. Tokayev's report was circulated by the press service of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, reports Trend.

The Kazakh side believes that the process of obtaining SCO membership "should be gradual, using other forms of cooperation envisaged by the Charter, such as observer and "dialogue partner" first, and turning into a fully-fledged SCO member afterwards", Tokayev said.

He also said that the Kazakh side welcomes cooperation between banks within the framework of the organization and "will make an active effort to develop financial and investment cooperation". "We hope that the work on developing our countries' credit resources will accelerate considerably with the adoption of documents on the inter-banking association," the report emphasized.

Tokayev spoke about the need for continuing joint antiterror exercises, saying that the Kazakh and Chinese special services were planning to hold a border exercise in August this year.

Tokayev said that "the accession to the SCO [as observers] of such large Asian states with enormous nuclear potential as India, Iran and Pakistan is having an impact on the regional geopolitical configuration".

"It is principally important not to give cause for speculations about SCO gradually turning into some kind of a 'nuclear club' of anti-Western orientation," Tokayev said in this respect.

"Kazakhstan, which has voluntarily renounced its nuclear arsenal, continuously advocated the strengthening of international non-proliferation regimes, the reduction of weapons of mass destruction [WMDs] and the ban on WMD tests."

At the same time, he spoke in favour of creating a mechanism for permanent consultations on the problems of WMD nonproliferation at the level of the foreign ministries of the SCO member states, involving the SCO observer countries.

China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are the SCO member states. Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan have observer status.

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