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    SCO SECRETARIAT BEGINS WORKING AND BECOMES A WELL ADJUSTED MECHANISM, SAYS RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

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    BEIJING, JANUARY 15, 2004. ( RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT). The beginning of the work of the SCO Secretariat turns this organisation into a well adjusted mechanism, Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov told journalists.

    "The SCO becomes a new stage in its activity. All the six countries incorporated in it are sure that it will become an effective mechanism of multilateral cooperation in the interests of peace, stability and permanent development in the region and beyond it," Ivanov said.

    He also reported that the main parametres of preparation for the session of the SCO council of heads of state, scheduled for the end of May-the beginning of June in Tashkent, were approved.

    According to the minister the mechanisms of cooperation in combating the main threats and challenges began working intensively. Along with the creation of the regional anti-terror SCO structure, an agreement on cooperation in the struggle against the illegal drug trafficking was prepared, counter-terror exercises of the armed forces of the SCO member countries were conducted and the collaboration of the general prosecutor's offices in fighting organised crime is being strengthened," Ivanov specified.

    He pointed that the process of economic integration in the SCO space began. "The council of the heads of state of the organisation's member countries held in September 2003 approved the long-term programme to be implemented till 2020," he emphasised.

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