Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to reject an invitation to visit the forthcoming summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), where his country has an observer status, the Russian foreign minister said.
The summit of the six-member regional security alliance began in the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Thursday. Ahmadinejad, whose country has long been seeking SCO membership, suddenly decided to snub the meeting as ties between Moscow and Tehran deteriorated over the recent Security Council vote imposing new sanctions on Iran.
"No one cancelled an invitation, sent by the Uzbek hosts to President Ahmadinejad, it was his decision not to come," Sergei Lavrov said.
Ahmadinejad "received an invitation in due time, like other participants, confirmed [his participation] and then it was up to him to decide," he added.
Instead, the Iranian president will fly to China to visit the Shanghai Expo.
Twelve members of the council's 15 members voted for the resolution to impose the fourth set of sanctions on Iran on Wednesday. The resolution was sponsored by the five permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia.
Iran, along with India, Mongolia and Pakistan, has an observer status in SCO, established in 2001 to help ensure security along the border between China and former Soviet republics.
Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are the founding members of SCO. Uzbekistan, which joined the organization in 2001, holds the organization's rotating presidency this year.
TASHKENT, June 11 (RIA Novosti)