Russia’s Lavrov says Iran will be formally approved as member of Shanghai alliance

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Iran will be formally approved as a member of the regional Shanghai Cooperation Organization with China, Russia and Central Asian countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday.

“At the meeting of heads of state on July 4, the full membership of Iran will be approved,” Lavrov said at the opening of an SCO center in Moscow.

Iran has intensified its diplomacy with friends and foes alike in recent months, seeking to reduce its isolation, improve its economy and project strength.

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SCO membership was already on the cards and Iran is also hoping to be quickly accepted into another grouping that excludes Western countries - the BRICS group with Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The SCO, which has its headquarters in China, is a diplomatic organization with eight members, including India and Pakistan.

Kremlin ally Belarus is also applying to join, and Lavrov said Friday that next week’s virtual summit would “begin the procedure” for that membership to go ahead.

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