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    BEIJING, JANUARY 15, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT SERGEI ZELENTSOV). An extraordinary session of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers began in Beijing. The SCO incorporates Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

    Spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry Alexander Yakovenko declared, when replying to the question put by RIA Novosti, that Russia attaches great importance to this session since it sets into motion the mechanism of the SCO Secretariat's work.

    "After two and half years of its existence the SCO will begin functioning in a full volume," Yakovenko pointed out.

    The holding in September 2003 of the conference of the heads of state was an important event. It approved the SCO budget and a long-term economic development programme, he stressed.

    According to the foreign ministry's spokesman, at the Beijing session the ministers will spotlight the practical development of economic cooperation.

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