The six-nation SCO, led by Russia and China, will meet in the Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent on Thursday, a day after the United Nations Security Council is expected to approve fresh sanctions against a defiant Iran. The regional security bloc, which also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian states, will discuss the fight against terrorism and extremism as well as drug trafficking from Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been invited.
…Russia and Iran have close ties but have clashed over Kremlin support for fresh U.N. sanctions, which would call for measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a connection to nuclear programs is suspected.
Russia and China, veto-wielding U.N. Security Council members, have worked to water down the sanctions and are expected to vote in favor.
…The absence of the Iranian leader will allow the SCO’s members — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — to focus on regional security issues.