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    Shanghai organization unlikely to expand soon - Kyrgyz minister

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    A Eurasian security bloc comprising five former Soviet republics and China is unlikely to expand soon, Kyrgyzstan's foreign minister said Monday.

    BISHKEK, June 12 (RIA Novosti) - A Eurasian security bloc comprising five former Soviet republics and China is unlikely to expand soon, Kyrgyzstan's foreign minister said Monday.

    "The expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) by admission of new members, including those that currently have observer status, is not on the agenda at present," Alikbek Dzhekshenkulov told a news conference.

    The diplomat said the issue had been widely discussed at a recent meeting of SCO foreign ministers, but the participants decided it was too early to consider the expansion of the bloc and agreed to focus on the strengthening of the organization instead.

    The SCO was set up a decade ago to deal with Islamic extremism and other security threats in Central Asia, but has since expanded its scope to include cooperation in disaster relief and trade.

    Dzhekshenkulov said Russia, China and Kazakhstan could play the role of an "economic locomotive" to boost the progress of less developed members of the organization.

    The SCO summit, which opens on June 15, will bring together the presidents of member nations Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China, as well as the leaders of Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia that currently have observer status in the alliance.

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