Iran Applies to Join Shanghai Group

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- Iran's foreign minister said Monday his country had applied to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security group dominated by China and Russia.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was created 11 years ago to address religious extremism and border security in Central Asia, but with growing interest in membership from countries such as Iran, it has grown into a bloc aimed at defying U.S. interests in the region.

Iran currently has observer status in the organization, as do Afghanistan, India, Mongolia and Pakistan. Along with China and Russia, the body's permanent members are the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

"Tajikistan has given us its support over this matter," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said after meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon in Dushanbe.