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25 Jul, 2008 07:29

Iran snubbed by key trading bloc

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has told Iran it can’t join. The statement was made by the Russian Foreign Minister at the group’s meeting in the Tadjik capital Dushanbe.

The SCO has also maintained a moratorium on new members for two years.

The SCO is made up of Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  It was created in 2001 to promote co-operation in political, economic, scientific and other spheres.

Foreign ministers of member states held a meeting ahead of the organisation's annual summit due to take place in August.

“Iran cannot be an associate member as there is no such status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. There is a position of observer state and Iran holds this at the SCO,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Iran, being an observer state since 2005, has sought full membership in the bloc.

Talking about possible enlargement of the SCO, Lavrov said ministers have agreed on arrangements for dialogue partnership with any country interested in co-operating with the organisation.