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Shanghai Cooperation Organization set to curb U.S. influence in Central Asia - Nikonov

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MOSCOW, June 29 (RIA Novosti) - The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has a new objective of curbing U.S. influence in Central Asia, a leading political scientist said Wednesday.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Polity Foundation, told a Moscow news conference that the organization, which unites Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China, has spent the past few months creating a new image for itself and resetting its priorities. He said he believed these efforts had been prompted by the wave of "color revolutions" in the former Soviet Union and the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The ruling elites of the SCO member states and other countries of the region see these events as an alarming indication that U.S. influence in Central Asia is growing out of proportion, he said.

"The SCO is now emerging as something of an interest club," Nikonov said. "The member countries are coming to share an interest in the possible restriction of American influence in Asia."

He said the SCO was a political organization, not a military bloc, but added that the possibility of it using a peacekeeping force some time in the future could not be completely ruled out. At this point, however, the SCO members see no immediate need for mobilizing their peacekeepers and continue to use the alliance as a forum for discussing problems of security in Central Asia, he said.

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