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    Russia backs Afghan bid for SCO membership

    KABUL (PAN): Moscow would support Kabul's bid for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) membership, the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan promised on Saturday.

    Zamir Kabulove held out the promise at a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Presidential Palace said in a statement.

    They also discussed preparations for the upcoming Istanbul conference and stressed joint regional cooperation efforts, the statement added.

    Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are members of the organisation, founded on June 15, 2001. Pakistan, India, Iran and Mongolia have observers' status while Turkmenistan and Afghanistan attend SCO gatherings as guest nations.

    Russia would provide 3,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan in food aid, said the diplomat, who added his country was ready to increase reconstruction assistance.