King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has signed the documents granting Saudi Arabia the status of “dialog partner” with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – the political, economic and security bloc currently chaired by China.
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The king signed off on the memorandum of understanding at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, held at the al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
In addition to formalizing the partnership, King Salman also approved the technical and vocational training with China. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman thanked Beijing for mediating the talks with Iran, which culminated in the re-establishment of “good neighborly relations”earlier this month.
The Saudi state agency also said that Iran was set to join the bloc “soon.” Tehran had applied for membership in 2021.
The SCO was created in 2001 by Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. It has since expanded to India, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan as full members. The status of dialog partner was created in 2008, and includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Türkiye.
The bloc initially focused on security concerns, primarily terrorism, separatism and extremism. It has an agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on jointly addressing security, crime and drug trafficking. Over the years, it began fostering cooperation in matters of trade, economics, and culture as well.
In addition to taking a step closer to the SCO, Saudi Arabia is reportedly interested in joining the BRICS group – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – Russia’s ambassador to the kingdom, Sergey Kozlov, said in February.