China today announced that India and Pakistan's admission as full members to the Beijing-backed Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will be formalised at the political and security grouping's summit in Kazakhstan next week.
"The members states of the SCO are accelerating the MoU procedures with the two countries and everything is going very well," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
"We hope India and Pakistan as the full members at the Astana summit (on June 8-9). We also expect the Astana summit will complete the admission procedures for the two countries," Hua told reporters.
The political and security grouping - headquartered in Beijing - was founded in 2001 and comprises Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, besides China as full members. It is mainly aimed at military cooperation between the members and involves intelligence-sharing, counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia.
Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status.
During the 2015 summit in Ufa, Russia, the SCO formally adopted a resolution starting the process to admit India and Pakistan into the organisation as full members. Both the countries signed a Memorandum of Obligations to join the organisation at last year's summit in Tashkent.
The Chinese foreign spokesperson also hoped that the admission of India and Pakistan as full members would help improve their bilateral relations.
"Hope India and Pakistan strictly follow the charter of the SCO and the idea of good neighbourliness to uphold the SCO spirit, improve their relations and inject new impetus to the development of the SCO," she said.
Hua said SCO members had launched the process to accept India and Pakistan as members in 2015.
"(And) now the member states of the SCO are accelerating the legal process on the MoU implementation. Everything is going on smoothly. Now the SCO will complete the first membership expansion since its establishment. It will become a regional organisation with the largest coverage," she said.
The presence of China and India, the world's most populous countries, would make SCO the organisation with the largest population coverage.