BEIJING, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- China backs India and Pakistan becoming members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as the group has agreed to expand its membership, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
"We welcome and support India and Pakistan to become new formal members of the SCO at the earliest possible date," Hong Lei said in a press release.
China believes the move will promote the organization's further development and strengthen its efforts to safeguard regional security and boost common development, Hong said.
The agreement on new members came in a legal document passed at the 14th SCO summit, held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, last Friday.
The SCO currently groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, while Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are observers, and Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners.
Hong said China is ready to maintain close communication with the other SCO members, India and Pakistan on the issue of further expansion of SCO membership.
India and Pakistan have actively participated in cooperation under the SCO framework and made positive contributions to the organization's development, according to the spokesman.
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