India has called for a much greater role for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Afghanistan, especially after the withdrawal of the US-led Nato troops from the country.
''The most important security challenge we face today relates to Afghanistan, which lies in the heart of Asia and is a bridge, connecting not just central and South Asia but also Eurasia and West Asia,'' S M Krishna, India's external affairs minister, told the 12th summit of the SCO in Beijing on Thursday. ''The SCO provides a promising alternative regional platform to discuss the rapidly changing Afghan situation.''
India believed that the SCO could play a much larger role in the future both for the security and prosperity of the region, added Krishna.
The SCO comprises Russia and China, the two permanent members of the UN Security Council, besides central Asian states including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
India, Pakistan, Mongolia and Iran have the status of observer states, while Afghanistan has just been admitted as a new observer. Belarus and Sri Lanka are the dialogue partners in the SCO.
India is keen on becoming a full-fledged member of the organisation and has Russia's backing as well. ''We have been participating constructively at all SCO meetings open to the observers,'' said Krishna. ''By doing so, we have shown our strong willingness to be meaningfully associated with this grouping.''