13:12 GMT13 August 2020
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    The Russian president’s special envoy to the Eurasian political and military bloc said that foreign military presence in Afghanistan is stopping it from joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Foreign military presence in Afghanistan is stopping it from joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Russian president’s special envoy to the Eurasian political and military bloc said Tuesday.

    "Afghanistan applied for SCO membership in 2015 … But the internal situation in this country, specifically foreign military presence, calls into question its prospects of membership at least in the long term, considering the existing criteria," Bakhtier Khakimov told the Kommersant newspaper.

    The bloc was founded in Shanghai in 2001 and is made up of China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, all key regional powers.

    Afghanistan has the status of an observer state due to a residue NATO presence in the country. It was downsized in 2015 when the US-led alliance launched a new mission called Resolute Support with a stated goal of training and assisting Afghan security forces in the fight against Taliban insurgency.


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