Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Algeria will become a member after obtaining dialogue partner and observer status FILE PHOTO: Russian Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. © Sputnik / Aleksey Nikolskyi

Algeria has applied to become a dialogue partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters following a council meeting of the political, economic, and defense union on Tuesday, according to TASS.

The process is underway, Lavrov said, adding that the North African nation and the Asian state of Laos, which has also submitted an application, will be eligible for SCO membership once they have passed the dialogue partner and observer status.

The SCO, which accounts for some 20% of global GDP, was founded in 2001 by China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Iran became the newest member of the organization last year, after India and Pakistan had joined in 2017.

Currently, 14 countries, with Egypt being the only African state, hold SCO dialogue partner status, allowing them to participate in the organization’s specialized events at the invitation of its members.

Algeria, one of Russia’s long-standing African partners, has been working to diversify its economy while also strengthening ties with countries such as China.

The oil-rich African country is among several that South African Foreign Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said last summer had formally applied to join BRICS – a bloc consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Last month, Algiers and Moscow signed a cooperation agreement to combat transnational organized crime, terrorism, extremism, and corruption. Both governments have also committed to strengthening cooperation in areas such as trade, energy, investment, culture, and humanitarian aid. (RT)