Seeking an expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, India said it was ready to take "greater responsibilities" and play a "constructive and meaningful role" in the grouping.
"India has consistently articulated its desire to play a more constructive and meaningful role as an observer at the SCO," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said, addressing the 10th summit of the forum in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. "We believe that our historically friendly ties with all the member states, our close political relations and equally, our burgeoning trade and investment relations, as well as our expertise, developed over the decades, in diverse sectors... all equip us to fulfill greater responsibilities in this forum," he said.
India, along with Iran, Pakistan and Mongolia has a status of observer state in the grouping, which initially emerged as a confidence-building mechanism along the former Sino-Soviet border and later expanded its activities to combating terrorism and promoting economic cooperation. The Tashkent summit is expected to set the rules and criteria for admitting new members. In 2006 Pakistan had sought SCO membership, but on the proposal of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev a moratorium was declared on the expansion of the group.
Russia is keen on India joining SCO as it would to some extent dilute Chinese influence, while China is for simultaneous admission of 'all weather' ally Pakistan. "We deeply value the role of SCO in bringing security, stability and development to our region and stand ready to step up our engagement to contribute more meaningfully to the SCO for the common good of the people of our region," Krishna said.