Astana: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Wednesday finalised its rules of engagement for expanding its membership, paving way for India to play a larger role in the regional body.

The two-day summit, attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other SCO leaders, approved the Memorandum of Obligations to admit new full-fledged members to the Organisation.

"I think the present members of the SCO have framed certain rules and those countries who are right now Observers, their application would be processed and I am very optimistic that India will find an affirmative response from the SCO," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told reporters accompanying him to Kazakhstan for the SCO summit.

The SCO comprises China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are observers at the SCO.

Krishna said the SCO membership would further strengthen India's linkages with Central Asia with whom it enjoys age-old cultural and trade relations.

Making an intervention at the SCO summit, Krishna sought a "larger and deeper" role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), saying it would like to bring to the table its technical expertise, markets and financial commitment.

"Ten years since its founding, the SCO faces a historic moment. Like other successful multilateral organisations, it must choose the path of its evolution," he said.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev voiced has strong support for India's membership to the SCO. Belarus and Sri Lanka's status in the SCO is that of dialogue partners.

Addressing the Summit, Medvedev said the SCO was not an elite club and was in favour of expanding its membership.

Afghanistan, which has been attending SCO meetings as a special invitee, was on Wednesday admitted as an Observer to the Summit.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Afghanistan was determined to take full responsibility for security of their country by 2020 when foreign forces will scale back their presence.

He told the summit that Afghanistan was pursuing peace and reconciliation with those Taliban who are willing to give up terrorism.

Karzai noted that China, India and Russia were witnessing extraordinary growth and should play an important role in the regional development activities.

On the sidelines of the Summit, Krishna met all the leaders of the SCO and its observer countries, including Zardari, Karzai, Pakistan Interior Minister Rahman Malik and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar.

Earlier, addressing the Summit, Krishna said the draft of the Memorandum of Obligation being discussed by this Summit would pave the way for expansion of the organisation in a
natural process of its evolution.

Krishna said SCO members and observers could cooperate more in the future on regional and global threats arising out of climate change, environmental security, food security,
energy security, particularly non-conventional sources of energy and other emerging issues which require a joint response for sustainable development.

"India stands ready to make a constructive contribution in these areas," he said.

The Minister said connectivity among the SCO countries is in fact central.

"One bottleneck to trade and economic activity among the SCO members and observer countries is the lack of viable transport linkages," Krishna said.

India is ready to cooperate with member countries to find viable solutions to this problem and contribute to the endeavour to build bridges between Central and South Asia, the Minister said.

He said India attaches great importance to association with the SCO and values the consistent and mature contribution made by the organisation to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

(Agencies)