Karzai urges SCO observer status for Afghanistan
ASTANA (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday briefed Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders on peace talks with rebels, proposed US bases and the removal of some Taliban leaders from the UN's blacklist.
"It is a matter of pleasure for me to address this summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation discussing regional peace, trade and relations," Karzai told the 10th SCO summit in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
A statement from his office said the president thanked his Kazak counterpart for his hospitality and hoped the summit would be a success under his leadership.
Referring to the peace process, he said they had held talks with the Taliban who were ready to renounce the insurgency and recognise Afghanistan's constitution. "We are hopeful that members of the SCO will help us in this regard," he added.
Karzai said efforts were being made to remove the names of some Taliban leaders from the UN's blacklist, as their cooperation was needed for bringing the peace parleys to fruition.
On the security transition plan, he said the process would be completed by the end of 2014, when the overall security responsibility would be transferred to Afghan forces.
He said the proposed strategic cooperation agreement with the US would have no impact on Afghanistan's neighbours. He said they would never allow any country to use Afghan soil against its neighbours.
The president also urged SCO states to invest in Afghanistan's mining sector. Afghanistan would turn into a regional trade hub if its mine deposits were exploited, he hoped.
Afghanistan had historic, cultural and trade ties with the organistion's members. "So far Afghanistan has been participating in SCO gatherings as a guest state. Now we want Afghanistan to be declared as an observer state," he said. The summit was expected to consider giving Afghanistan the status.
SCO was founded in 2001 by the leaders of six countries -- Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as a forum to strengthen regional cooperation.
Later, four other countries -- India, Pakistan, Iran, and Mongolia -- were also included as observer states. As a guest, Karzai also participated in the last SCO summit in Tashkent.
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