Ufa, Russia: India was today accepted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a six-member regional grouping including China and Russia, with which Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered to work in combating terror and boosting trade by easing barriers.
India, which has had an observer status for the past 10 years, will technically become a member by next year after completion of certain procedures.
The Beijing-based SCO currently has China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as members.
Along with India, the process to include Pakistan as a member was also initiated today.
"I convey our deep sense of gratitude to the members of SCO for accepting India as a full member," Mr Modi said after the announcement was made at the Summit, attended by leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
"Our membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a natural extension" of the relationships that India has with member countries "and mirrors the region's place in India's future," he said.
Noting that India's membership reflects the natural links of history, he said, "It will also promote peace and prosperity in this vast region that has often been called the pivot of human history."
Mr Modi said the membership also advances the shared vision to reconnect and integrate Eurasia's different region.
India was made an Observer in the SCO in 2005 and it made an application last year for full membership of the grouping whose focus is on connectivity, counter-terrorism cooperation, bolstering cooperation in energy sector, enhancing trade and dealing with drug trafficking.
"We will work with SCO to combat terrorism and extremism that is a rising threat to the entire region. A stable and peaceful Afghanistan is a future that the Afghan people richly deserve, but it will also advance peace, stability and prosperity in the region," the Prime Minister said.
"As we look forward, we would lend our support to improving transportation and communication networks in the region. We can create a vast network of physical and digital connectivity that extends from Eurasia's northern corner to Asia's southern shores. The International North South Transportation Corridor is a step in that direction," he said.
Mr Modi, who attended the SCO Summit soon after his bilateral meeting with Sharif, congratulated Pakistan for joining the SCO.
"I also take this opportunity to congratulate Pakistan on joining the SCO," he said.