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16 Jun, 2009 07:16

Russia hosts SCO conference for closer Asia ties

The crisis, terrorism, and cooperation – that’s the focus of this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization's annual summit. The leaders of the member countries are meeting in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.

Founded in 2001, the organization includes Russia, China, and the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Iran, India and Pakistan are on the observer list, and the Russian President is expected to meet with their leaders.

The international body aims to ensure security in Asia and promote economic ties between the member states.

Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari is optimistic about the conference and its future:

“It is a very far-sighted concept of the Shanghai forum. It brings together regional concepts which are today to be the future of the world. In the future, regional trade, regional responsibility, regional security and regional support will be the answer of all regional issues,” he told RT.

“The summit in Yekaterinburg has already proved to be a successful event. The participants have discussed issues of both global agenda and mutual interest – security, economic and cultural issues, the financial crisis and possible ways to extend cooperation, including anti-terrorist measures,” .

“We believe that the organization, which has already existed for eight years, has all the potential of playing a greater role in the international agenda,” he added.

In terms of tackling the credit crunch, the countries will look for possible ways of reducing their dependence on the US dollar.

The leaders plan to sign an anti-terrorism convention and will discuss security in Afghanistan and North Korea’s nuclear threat. A delegation from Afghanistan has even been invited to the convention as a special guest.

It is the sidelines of the summit which are drawing the most attention. India’s prime minister is to meet with the Pakistani president for the first time since the Mumbai terrorist attack.

Having missed the first day of the summit, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Yekaterinburg on Tuesday. The Iranian leader was expected in the city on Monday but had to delay his visit due to personal circumstances, an informed source told Itar-Tass news agency.

The meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Iranian counterpart won’t take place because of Medvedev’s busy agenda at the OSCE summit, Interfax has reported.

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