India will lend more weight to the Shanghai regional group when it joins it as a full member, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said on Friday.

“India has something substantial to offer to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in terms of strengthening the group,” he said at a joint press conference with his Russian and Chinese counterparts after the 11th trilateral meeting in RIC format here.

“India, with its billion-strong population, plays a very important role in the Shanghai regional group, where it has an observer status, and therefore India has expressed the desire to be involved in the organisation much more than it is today,” Mr. Krishna said.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow supported granting full membership to India, as well as to Pakistan, “which has also sent in its application.”

He said the SCO came up for discussion at the RIC meeting and it was reiterated that the group was an “open” organisation.

Mr. Lavrov said the Shanghai group was now finalising the legal, organisational and financial aspects of admitting new members. He hoped that all formalities would be completed “in a short time and we can take the decision to admit India and Pakistan.”

Earlier this year Russian diplomats said the SCO still lacked consensus on expansion.

Mr. Lavrov welcomed India's participation as observer in a range of SCO activities, including the energy club, and its joining the SCO anti-terrorist structure as well as other projects in transportation, new technologies, agriculture, science and education.

“There is no bar to India's greater involvement in the SCO,” he said.


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