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    SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANIZATION'S FOREIGN MINISTERS TO NEGOTIATE IN MOSCOW

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    MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow is to host a session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's countries April 23.

    The concerned Foreign Ministers are to discuss the implementation of specific decisions, which were adopted by the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's countries during their May 2003 Moscow summit, as well as preparations for yet another summit, scheduled for June 2004 in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

    Foreign Ministers are supposed to examine and approve some important documents, as well.

    Among other things, a special agreement for coping with illicit drug trafficking is now being drafted within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's framework. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, all countries, members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, are concerned over drug trafficking from Afghanistan. That country continues to "export" even more drugs after the overthrow of the Talib regime.

    The discussion of joint anti-terrorist operations is yet another top-priority issue. Recent international-terrorist attacks against Uzbekistan, which is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, confirm the topical nature of this problem. The activities of the regional anti-terrorist structure, which is a mechanism for effectively coordinating operations on the part of national law-enforcement agencies and secret services, are becoming particularly important in this context.

    National Foreign Ministers would also be expected to discuss various economic-cooperation aspects. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization's countries aim to establish a common economic infrastructure within their organization's framework. Plans are in place to establish a veritable free-trade zone within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's framework, officials at the Russian Foreign Ministry explained. A common economic infrastructure should be established within the next decade, rather than during the next 2-3 years, they added.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry emphasizes the fact that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an open organization, rather than some military-political bloc. This is its main difference from such organizations as NATO or the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

    The Council's regular session is taking place in accordance with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's charter. As of today, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization comprises six countries, i.e. Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan presides in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization this year. For its own part, the Collective Security Treaty Organization includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia.

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