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    MOSCOW ATTACHES GREAT SIGNIFICANCE TO ITS MEMBERSHIP IN SHANGHAI CO-OPERATION ORGANISATION

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    MOSCOW, January 28, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - The activities of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) is of particular importance to Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in the article entitled "Asia in Russia and Russia in Asia," which was published in January's issue of the Asia and Africa Today magazine.

    The organisation was not designed as a tool against any country whatsoever, but as a multi-purpose co-operation mechanism to help the six member-countries address problems facing them and the entire humanity. Russia is positive that such an approach meets regional and global security requirements, emphasised Mr Ivanov.

    The SCO is to a great degree unique phenomenon for Asia, he said. This multilateral organisation has considerable positive possibilities. Two of its members are nuclear powers, permanent UN Security Council members and leading nations in Central Asia. Geographically the SCO stretches from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific, while its members' aggregate population surpasses 1.5 billion. The member-countries' overall scientific, technological and financial potentials are really immense, as is their manpower and natural resources, said Mr Ivanov.

    The organisational phase is nearing completion, says the article. In January 2004, the organisation opens its permanent bodies -- the Secretariat that will be based in Beijing and the regional anti-terrorist centre in Tashkent.

    This means that in 2004, the SCO will emerge as a full-fledged international organisation. The organisational work has been done for a very short time. A little more than two years have passed since the intention to establish the organisation was voiced in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, writes the minister.

    The SCO involves Kazakhstan, China, Kyrghyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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