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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SCO Endorses Iranian President's Re-election

RIA-NovostiPresident Dmitry Medvedev meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Yekaterinburg on Tuesday.��
Leaders wrapped up a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit on Tuesday with a whirl of activity: They congratulated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his re-election; signed a declaration affirming a multipolar world; rebuked North Korea; promised to help Afghanistan; and pledged to allow more members into their circle.

China — which competes with Russia for influence in the six-nation alliance that positions itself as a counterbalance to the United States' influence in the region — offered a $10 billion loan to group members to counter the effects of the global economic crisis.

President Dmitry Medvedev held one-on-one talks with Ahmadinejad, who flew to the summit in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg amid protests at home that his re-election had been rigged and questions from the United States and European Union about the legitimacy of his victory.

Medvedev's spokeswoman Natalya Timakova told reporters that the two leaders agreed to continue economic and humanitarian cooperation.

"The heads of SCO member states congratulated Ahmadinejad on his re-election," she added.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters that Moscow regards the Iranian election as an internal matter for the country. He praised Ahmadinejad's visit to Russia as "quite symbolic" and said it heralded closer relations between the countries.

Iran holds observer status at the SCO along with Pakistan, Mongolia and India. On Tuesday, the SCO leaders agreed to grant Belarus and Sri Lanka partner status — a step above observer status but not quite a full member.

Ahmadinejad, who arrived a day late for the summit, used his first trip abroad since Iran's Friday election to criticize the United States at one of Tuesday's meetings.

"America is enveloped in an economic and political crisis, and there is no hope that they will be resolved," he said, speaking through an interpreter, The Associated Press reported.

He said the "age of empires" has ended.

Iran has sought full membership in the SCO in the past, as has Pakistan, but Russia and China have blocked their bids.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Tuesday that he wanted Pakistani representatives to have access to all SCO events even if his country could not become a member.

Medvedev and Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon spoke out in favor of allowing more members into the SCO, though they did not name any particular country.

"It is necessary to speed up the drafting of a document that would define the procedure to admit new members into the SCO," Medvedev said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao offered a credit loan of $10 billion to the four Central Asian states that belong to the SCO — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — to boost their economies amid the crisis.

The SCO leaders signed a declaration Tuesday that welcomed the recent start of nuclear arms reduction talks between Russia and the United States and warned against any attempt by a nation to unilaterally try to obtain a military edge over other countries.

The alliance also adopted a convention against terrorism in which the member states agreed to continue joint anti-terrorism military exercises.

Medvedev for the first time voiced his opposition to North Korea's recent nuclear test and the threats its leadership has made to other countries. "Of course, we noted that this kind of behavior in the current situation is unacceptable," he told a news conference.

On Tuesday, the formal leadership of the SCO moved from Russia to Uzbekistan. The next summit will be held in Tashkent in 2010.