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Over the past few years, particularly since the U.S. withdrawal in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has suffered from Washington-led sanctions.
Disappointed at the West and seeking to resolve problems at home through diversifying its international partners, the new Iranian administration, ever since taking office in August, has carried out diplomatic activities with a greater focus on "looking to the East."
In September, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) started admitting Iran as a full member from an observer. Meanwhile, Iran has also redoubled efforts to strengthen its relationship with Russia, an instance of which was a recent visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian to Moscow as head of a delegation.
MEMBERSHIP IN SCO
Speaking to Iran's official news agency IRNA in late September, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, spokesman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian parliament, said the country's membership in the SCO will contribute to a shift in the unjust balance dominating international political relations, and help end U.S.-led unilateralism, which has led to Tehran's isolation.
The most important outcome of the SCO membership for Tehran is to minimize the negative consequences of U.S. sanctions and bring about positive economic results for Iran, he said.
It was crucial for Iran to join the SCO as a full member, as Russia, China, India and other important countries are also members of the organization, said Iranian political activist Hossein Kanani Moghaddam.
Iranian lawmaker Ali Akbar Ahmadpour-Fadaki told IRNA that the best way to encounter U.S. sanctions is through enhancing cooperation with the East, adding that SCO membership is a step in the right direction.
Analysts also believed that Iran's membership in the SCO will bolster the country's security, trade and banking-sector ties with member countries.
VISIT TO MOSCOW
In addition to the SCO, Iran's foreign policy of "looking to the East" is also reflected in its efforts to strengthen relations with Russia, a country which Amirabdollahian visited from Oct. 5-6 after taking office as Iran's foreign minister.
While in Moscow, Amirabdollahian said the visit illustrated how relations between Iran and Russia are strategic in essence. He added that Iran and Russia would work to strengthen ties before their next high-level meeting.
Former Deputy Speaker of the Russian State Duma Sergey Baburin said Amirabdollahian's visit will boost regional and international cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.
The visit showed that the two countries share a similar stance on regional and international issues, he said, adding that the agreement reached between the two countries on addressing regional issues without the interference of non-regional players was the most important achievement of the visit.