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Regional Ministers Vow to Pursue Peace

The foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) agreed yesterday to set up a regional counter-terrorism agency and a "mechanism for emergency response."

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said the three tasks facing the SCO were: to maintain close cooperation in Afghan and regional issues; to combat the three vices (terrorism, separatism and extremism) in their own countries; and to formulate the SCO's constitution in time for the SCO summit in June.

SCO members also signed a joint statement pledging to fight international terrorism.

The foreign ministers of the six-nation organization arrived on Sunday to attend the one-day ad hoc meeting. This is the first meeting of foreign ministers after the SCO was founded last June.

The joint statement says that the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan does not mean that international terrorist organizations have gone for good.

The members welcome the Afghan people's breaking away from the Taliban regime, which condones international terrorism, the statement says, noting that SCO members support the efforts of Afghanistan, countries of the region and the international community to ensure Afghanistan does not become the source of the spread of terrorism, separatism, extremism and drug trafficking.

The joint statement says the SCO members hope that Afghanistan will become a peaceful and neutral country, respect human rights and freedom, maintain good relations with neighboring countries and be committed to its international obligations.

SCO members called on the international community to respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan and said they are willing to provide the country with humanitarian aid.

In addition, the statement said SCO members will do their best to eliminate the threat of terrorism in the territories of the six nations.

The statement said the anti-terrorism campaign should be carried out worldwide, nationally and regionally, and should not be prejudiced or use double standards.

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told reporters that all members are supportive of China's position concerning East Turkestan terrorists and of Russia's stance on Chechen terrorists and regard these efforts as part and parcel of the international fight against terrorism.

SCO members also agreed that the United Nations (UN) and the UN Security Council should play a leading role in the anti-terrorism campaign.

In addition, the statement said that the fight against terrorism should not be associated with opposition to any ethnic group, religion, country or nationality.

SCO members said they were opposed to arbitrary expansion of anti-terrorism efforts, noting such efforts should not interfere in the internal affairs of any nation, and should help safeguard the long-term interest of regional and world peace.

SCO members have decided to set up an anti-terrorism organization in Bishkek of Kyrgyzstan.

Addressing the tension in India and Pakistan after the December terrorist attacks in New Delhi, the statement said that SCO members hope the two sides will resume dialogue to settle the problems and work to fight global terrorism.

The Shanghai group has worked to reduce border troops in the region and cooperate against international terrorism, separatism and religious extremism in the central Asian region.

(China Daily January 8, 2001)

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