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SCO Meeting Highlights Economic, Energy Cooperation
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The heads of government from the six member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) gathered in Tajikistan's capital on Friday to discuss and delineate their economic and energy cooperation.

At the fifth annual meeting, the leaders pledged to implement the consensus reached in the 2006 SCO summit, held in June in Shanghai, the regional organization's birthplace.

The six heads of government are Kazakh Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Kyrgyz Prime Minister FeliksKulov, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, Tajik Prime Minister Akil Akilov and Ukzbek Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who arrived there late Thursday, said boosting economic cooperation had become a consensus of all sides.

"After years of effort, we have set up the major goals and priority areas for economic cooperation, formulated a well-grounded legal basis, and set up multi-faceted cooperative mechanisms and channels," Wen told the meeting.

Owing to sharp differences in legislature, policy-making, fund shortage and weak infrastructure, economic cooperation had been somehow hindered, Wen said.

To address the problem, Wen suggested the launching of projects which could network more than one side and bring benefits for all.

China has pledged to expand its trade with other SCO members from the current US$40 billion to 80, even US$100 billion in 2010.

A joint communique issued after the meeting revealed that all sides had agreed to set energy, transportation and telecommunications as their priorities for cooperation.

To address the energy concerns, the member states have agreed to launch an energy working group.

The working group, along with SCO's Secretariat, was ordered to study the possibility of establishing an SCO energy club, the joint communique said.

Kazakhstan and Russia will table their proposal to hold a meeting of the heads of energy departments from SCO members in 2007.

Another bottleneck for SCO cooperation is fund shortage. The problem should be resolved "by multiple channels," Premier Wen suggested.

He urged the utilization of the SCO inter-bank union and the raising of funds from the market when launching large projects. Cooperation between SCO members and international financial institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank, should also be promoted, he said.

From within, all SCO members agreed to "simplify administrative and customs procedures for cross-border transport within the SCO member states," they said in the joint communique.

The prime ministers urged their governments, enterprises and financial institutions to use the SCO platform to advance communications within the organization and with the outside commercial and social circles.

The SCO, a regional organization founded in June, 2001, now groups China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, with Pakistan, Mongolia, Iran and India holding observer status.

(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2006)

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