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Hu urges SCO to ensure security for its members

By Cheng Guangjin and Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

11:40, May 12, 2012

In the face of new challenges, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization should deepen cooperation to ensure mutual, reliable security for its member countries, President Hu Jintao said on Friday.

Hu made the remarks in a meeting with foreign ministers from the SCO member countries and its secretary-general. The organization has recently been preparing for the 12th SCO summit, which will be held in June in Beijing.

Hu said the SCO has become an important force in this region in the last 10 years.

Hu encouraged all member countries to stick to the "Shanghai Spirit", concentrate on security and comprehensively strengthen communication and expand cooperation in all areas to make the SCO a "reliable security mechanism and effective cooperation platform".

He added that the SCO should continue to protect the common interests of its member countries and promote regional economic development and prosperity.

Founded on June 15, 2001, the SCO includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

On behalf of the foreign ministers of the SCO member countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the council reached many important agreements during the meeting, which will be submitted for review by the leaders of each country.

"I believe the SCO summit in Beijing will be extremely fruitful and point out the direction for the organization's development," he said.

During a SCO ministerial meeting on Friday, the six countries decided to upgrade the organization's capabilities in crisis awareness and management, which will help safeguard national sovereignties and security in the areas of finance, energy and food, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said.

They also agreed to accelerate the establishment of an SCO development bank, he said.

Premier Wen Jiabao first proposed the founding of a bank to explore new ways of pursuing common benefits in 2010. The initial funding of the bank could be up to $10 billion.

Since all the members were affected by the ongoing global economic crisis, the bank could help stimulate economic recovery, said Li Xin, director of the Center for Russia and Central Asia Studies with the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.

It could also provide funding to help upgrade the outdated infrastructure of its Central Asian members, he added.

"China, which assumed the rotating presidency of the SCO last June, expects the other top leaders to officially approve this proposal during the SCO summit in Beijing this June," he said.

Konstantin Syroezhkin, chief researcher at Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, said that while the six countries understood the importance of increasing economic cooperation to combat the global recession, lack of funding and conflicting interests among the members were obstacles.

Closer cooperation on infrastructure, transportation and the establishment of a regional energy organization could help fend off future crises, he said.

The SCO also urged its members to play a constructive role in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa and called for all parties to respect the United Nations Charter, international laws, and people's independent choices in the region, Yang said.

After the United States completely withdraws from Afghanistan in 2014, members of the SCO, as a diplomatic force and security group, must continue counter-terrorism efforts and support for regional and global peace, Li said.

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