UFA, RUSSIA — Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Armenia, and Nepal have been admitted to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on a partner status, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday. SCO is a political, economic and military alliance founded in 2001 that brings together Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

“Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, and Nepal have joined the SCO family as partners in dialogue,” Putin said during his opening speech at the extended meeting of SCO’s Heads of Governments Council in the Russian city of Ufa.

Earlier, the SCO had three dialogue partners — Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

The SCO summit launched the procedures to accept new members, India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed South Asian rivals that currently have observer status in the SCO. Iran, Mongolia, and Afghanistan also have observer status.

At the one-day summit held on July 10, the SCO leaders also signed a declaration on the results of the gathering, in which they reiterated their readiness to continue working on creation of a Development Bank and Development Fund within the SCO and supported China’s proposal to create a Silk Road economic belt across the SCO member-states.

The document also called for establishing peace in Ukraine through implementation of the Minsk agreement, a February deal on a cease-fire and steps toward a political solution to the conflict between government forces and Russian-backed separatists.

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