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SCO membership: China backs India's bid for full membership

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Beijing (Sept 18, 2014): China on Thursday backed India's bid for full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a Beijing-dominated security grouping.

"China backs India and Pakistan becoming members of the SCO as the group has agreed to expand its membership," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement here.

"Beijing believes the move will promote the organistion's further development and strengthen its efforts to safeguard regional security and boost common development, Hong said.

Hong's statement came after Chinese President Xi Jinping himself announced China's backing for India's entry to the security organisation after extensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

"China welcomes and supports India to become a full member of the SCO," Xi said after the talks.

India had formally applied for membership of SCO in its summit meeting in Dushanbe last week where External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said India was ready to step up engagement with the security grouping.

The process to grant SCO membership to India is likely to be completed within one year.

India has been an observer at SCO since 2005 and has generally participated at the ministerial-level at summits of the grouping which focuses mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian space.

SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India, Iran and Pakistan were admitted as observers at the 2005 Astana Summit.

The group has agreed to expand its membership in the backdrop of mounting concerns over Islamic militancy in the region.

China has been battling the rise of militancy in Xinjiang which borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Afghanistan and several other Central Asian states.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman also said that it looks forward to reaching a consensus with India on jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.