Vladimir Putin says 80 large Russian companies to visit Iran next week

Russia is 'doing everything' to help Iran to become a full member of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, president says

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Thursday. Reuters
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that a delegation of 80 large companies would visit Iran next week, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported on Thursday.

Mr Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi were attending a summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation in Samarkand in Uzbekistan.

"On the bilateral level, co-operation is developing positively," Mr Putin said.

Earlier on Thursday, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Iran had signed a deal for full membership of the SCO.

"We are doing everything to make Iran a full member of the SCO," Mr Putin said.

The group brings together China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four ex-Soviet Central Asian countries.

"By signing the document for full membership of the SCO, now Iran has entered a new stage of various economic, commercial, transit and energy cooperation," Mr Amirabdollahian wrote on his Instagram page.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. AFP

The body was formed in the 2001 as a platform for dialogue between Russia, China and ex-Soviet states in Central Asia. It expanded four years ago to include India and Pakistan, with a view to playing a bigger role in countering Western influence in the region.

Iran will now be able to take part in meetings of the bloc. However, it is likely to take some time to achieve full membership, deputy secretary general of the organisation, Grigory Logvinov, told Russian state TV.

Iran's economy has been hit hard since 2018 when the US president at the time, Donald Trump, abandoned Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, including Russia and China.

Iran, one of four SCO observer states, applied for full membership in 2008. However, its bid was slowed down by UN and US sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme.

Several SCO members did not want a country under international sanctions in their ranks, which now also applies to Russia.

Mr Putin also met Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the summit.

He said pipeline gas supplies to Pakistan were possible and that part of the necessary infrastructure was already in place, RIA reported.

Updated: September 15, 2022, 11:18 AM