EghtesadOnline: Iran on Friday called on countries in the region, including the member states of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to step up their efforts for promoting multilateralism and empowering regional organizations.
"In the face of the US government's call for unilateralism, we should help promote multilateralism by strengthening regional organizations," First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri was quoted as saying by ISNA.
He made the statements to reporters after arriving in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, to attend the 18th meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of SCO Member States.
Jointly led by Russia and China, SCO was launched in 2001 to address regional security, political and economic challenges, particularly threats posed by extremism and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan, according to Financial Tribune.
The eight-member group also includes Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and, since 2017, Pakistan and India.
SCO has six dialogue partners, namely Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka.
Iran is currently an observer member at the organization, though it has long sought full membership. It has proactively participated in SCO's activities and made positive contributions to the development of the bloc, according to Iranian and foreign officials.
Jahangiri said international issues can be resolved through multilateralism and urged all regional countries, especially SCO members, to follow this path.
Iran has taken the brunt of US President Donald Trump's penchant for unilateralism. He last year pulled his country from the 2015 nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers, which gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.
The US administration has since reimposed and toughened US sanctions on Iran, despite international opposition.
Iran's Full Membership
The first vice president said SCO is one of the most important Asian organizations and reiterated Iran's interest in becoming a full member of the group.
"Shanghai Cooperation Organization has vast potentials for cooperation in the fields of economy, politics and security, and member states can increase their collaboration by utilizing the existing potentials," the official added.
Despite the fact that legal obstacles on the path of Iran's accession to SCO were removed after the lifting of international sanctions against Iran under the nuclear deal, opposition by some countries has prevented Tehran from become a full member.
Moscow and Beijing have backed Iran's bid for accession to the bloc. They both have close economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran and were also instrumental in pushing through the landmark nuclear agreement.
Some experts argue that resolution of bilateral issues and the clearing up of misunderstandings with Central Asian countries can smooth the way for Iran to join the intergovernmental organization.
The Iranian vice president said his visit to Tashkent was made at the invitation of Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov, adding that he would hold talks with senior official from participating countries about bilateral, regional and international issues on the sidelines of the conference.
Jahangiri is being accompanied by a high-ranking delegation during his two-day visit.