The foreign ministers of member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a six-member intergovernmental group, will meet in Shanghai today to pave the way for the SCO Summit to be held in mid-June.
Foreign ministers from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are expected to sign several agreements at the meeting and set the final agenda for the summit.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters earlier that the ministers would exchange views on deepening SCO cooperation and debate other international and regional issues of common concern.
As Iran has observer status and seeks to become a full member, the country's nuclear issue has been given much attention, although Liu said SCO members have yet to decide if the issue will be put forward for discussion.
In addition to attending the annual meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov began a two-day official visit to China today.
He is scheduled to hold talks with Chinese leaders and his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing in Beijing tomorrow to further the two countries' bilateral strategic partnership.
Observers said as this year marks the Year of Russia in China, cooperation between the two countries in various fields is constantly being enhanced and the frequent and in-depth exchange of the two foreign ministers is of great significance in safeguarding global and regional peace and stability.
Li also held bilateral talks with visiting Tajikistan Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov yesterday in Shanghai.
(Xinhua News Agency May 15, 2006)