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Saudi Arabia opts to join Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as ties with China strengthens 

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia had decided to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as its bilateral ties with China continues to strengthen, a development that could angry the kingdom’s long ally, Washington.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz gave approval in this regard while chairing the Cabinet session at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Tuesday.

The cabinet approved “a memorandum on granting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia the status of a dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” according to SPA news.

The SCO is a key regional forum comprising Pakistan, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and India. It focuses primarily on the areas of trade, finance, commerce and socio-economic cooperation among the SCO member states.

A matter related to joining the SCO was discussed when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia last December.

Dialogue partner status is the first step within the organisation before granting the kingdom full membership in the mid-term, reports said.

Last year, Iran signed a Memorandum of Obligations to join the rapidly expanding SCO as its full and permanent member. The Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian had made the announcement on social media at that time, stating:  “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”.

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