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Nawaz, Modi exchange greetings ahead of SCO summit in Astana

Commemorative banknotes in honor of Expo 2017 issued in China

Pakistan and India both now hold observer status at SCO. A Chinese daily reported, that there is apprehension that India's hostility could also affect the unity of the China-dominated outfit. The SCO comprises six member states presently.

Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are the full-fledged members of the SCO.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, vowed Thursday to accelerate the alignment of their countries' respective development policies and push bilateral ties to a higher level.

Importantly, the summit will also formally accept the inclusion of the two South Asian rivals - India and Pakistan, representing a mammoth 1.5 billion population. "China welcomes and supports Iran's wish to become a formal member of the SCO", Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Huilai was quoted by Reuters as saying on Monday.

We have long-standing relations with SCO members and look forward to progressing them further through the SCO for mutual betterment and growth of our countries and our people.

Russian Federation pushed for India's admission, while China reportedly backed membership for its ally Pakistan.

Official sources said Modi and Sharif exchanged greetings when they were in the leaders' lounge for the reception at the Astana Opera organised to welcome the leaders who are participating in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit.

The statement said besides the SCO Summit, Kazakhstan is also hosting the International Expo 2017, in which more than 100 countries including Pakistan are participating.

India's and Pakistan's joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will have controversial impact on the organization, Richard Weitz, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the US-based Hudson Institute, believes.

India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over several issues, including on Islamabad's support to terrorism, since the terror attack on an Indian army base in Uri in Kashmir in September previous year by Pakistan-based militants killed 18 Indian soldiers. He said this would "improve conditions along the India-Pakistan border".