The upcoming summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be a "milestone" that marks a new stage for the development of the 5-year-old organization, the chief of the regional group said in Beijing Thursday.
During the June 15 summit meeting, slated for Shanghai, the heads of state of the member countries will review the SCO's achievements and in its construction and development over the past five years, said SCO Secretary-General Zhang Deguang.
The organization, established in Shanghai in 2001, comprises China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Since 2004, it has accepted Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India as observers.
The six heads of state will also draw up the future development goals and tasks of the organization, Zhang said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
The member nations have invited leaders of the four observer countries to attend the meeting, in addition to President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai who will come as guest of the host country.
The leaders of some international organizations will also be invited for the first time to attend a summit meeting of the regional group.
As preparations are going on smoothly, Zhang said, all parties concerned have basically reached a consensus on the main agenda of the summit meeting, and some documents on development and cooperation are expected to be signed.
Over the past five years, he said, the SCO has completed its institutional construction and legal framework. "The necessary systems and mechanisms are all in place, creating conditions and laying a sound foundation for promoting regional stability and economic development."
The SCO will devote itself to regional economic integration. "Our present goal is to realize the free flow of commodities, capital, technologies and services in the region within 20 years," said Zhang.
The SCO pursues an open policy, but it has not formulated legal documents on accepting new members at present, he added.
Zhang refuted media reports calling the SCO an "oriental NATO," saying this is "totally groundless."
The SCO has never sought confrontation with any parties and its aims have nothing to do at all with becoming a military bloc. The organization will continue holding high the banner of peace, cooperation and openness, said Zhang.
As a founding member, China has played "a very important role" in the establishment of the SCO and the formation of its aims and principles, especially the "Shanghai Spirit," which embodies mutual trust and benefit, equality, respect for cultural diversity and a desire for common development.
The SCO is the first intergovernmental organization with its headquarters in China.
Zhang said the remarks of Chinese President Hu Jintao during a joint interview by journalists of SCO member states on Tuesday showed that the Chinese leaders attach great importance to the SCO.
They also sent a strong signal to the international community that the SCO is an organization of peace, cooperation, openness and nonalignment that is devoted to promoting regional stability, security and development.
The challenges the SCO now faces mainly include the "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism, as well as drug trafficking, cross-border crimes and illegal trafficking and sale of weapons, he said.
The SCO member countries also have to deal with the attempts to disturb the "normal process" of their social, political and economic development, in addition to poverty reduction, diseases and natural disasters.
On the Iran nuclear issue, Zhang expressed the hope that it would be properly settled through negotiations and diplomatic efforts.
As all the member countries have agreed to invite the leaders of SCO observers to attend the summit meeting, the presence of the Iranian leader will not conflict with the international efforts to resolve the Iran nuclear issue, said Zhang.