Putin welcomes Iran, Pakistan to join SCO
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L), Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R) and Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi arrive at a meeting of the SCO. REUTERS photo
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin lashed out yesterday at “arrogant world powers” as he hosted his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao for a regional security summit Moscow bills as a counterpart to NATO.
Russia’s likely new head of state after next year’s presidential elections accused Western nations of hypocrisy for backing revolutions in North African countries that previously enjoyed their strong support. “It really is just like you said -- these are arrogant world powers,” Putin said in response to remarks from Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Saint Petersburg. “They also supported the old North African regimes,” news agencies quoted Putin as saying in a clear reference to European powers and the United States.
“But what is interesting, they also supported the North African revolutions as well, the ones that overthrew the old regimes.” Russia strongly opposed NATO’s air campaign in Libya and has warned the West against acting tough towards its close Soviet-era ally Syria.
The 10-year-old SCO joins Russia and China with the four ex-Soviet states of Central Asian in a loose security union that Moscow hopes to develop into a more powerful force rivaling the Brussels-based NATO bloc. Iran is one of three nations along with Pakistan and Iran to have applied to join the organization. Monday’s summit brought together mainly prime ministers from the SCO’s member and observer states. But the group made no formal decision on expansion at yesterday’s meeting and was short on other concrete results. “Russia would welcome the positive review of applications to join our organization in one form or another from any interested nation,” Putin was quoted as saying.