The presidents of the six member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) endorsed their charter and agreed to establish an anti-terrorism center in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek after their one-day summit Friday.
"The signing of these documents show the international community, once again, the firm resolution of these member countries in enhancing regional cooperation and safeguarding and promoting world peace and development,'' said Chinese President Jiang Zemin at the meeting held in this Russian city.
The SCO charter provides a solid legal basis for the development of the six-nation organization which was launched in Shanghai last year. The countries include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The charter expounds on the principles, purpose and task of the organization, procedures for adopting new members, legal effects of the organization's decisions, and the means of cooperation between the organization and other international organizations.
The current organization evolved from the Shanghai Five, which was created in 1996 to resolve border problems between China and some of its neighbours. Uzbekistan became a new member last year when the organization changed to its current name. The organization has now expanded its scope from a single purpose to cover a wider range of regional and international issues.
The anti-terrorism center will coordinate interaction among member countries in combating international terrorism, national separatism and religious extremism, according to the agreement.
The agreement on the center will serve as the legal basis to start substantial cooperation in security issues and offer a more effective means for the fledging organization to combat terrorism together.
Jiang said the security and stability of Central Asia are directly linked to the interests of the six member nations and conducive to the peaceful development of international community.
"The changes in the international situation after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States have indicated that this region is still facing an arduous task of keeping its peace and development,'' he added.
The organization stated in a declaration that they are not an alliance directed against other states and regions and that they adhere to the principle of openness.
The declaration also said the organization opposes all terrorist acts and added that anti-terrorism should be conducted on the basis of international laws and norms and should not adopt double standards.
The declaration also said the organization supports the establishment of nuclear-free zones including an initiative raised by Uzbekistan to establish a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia.
The organization also welcomes the new treaty signed by Russia and the United States on the further substantial reduction in strategic offensive weapons, and considers it a positive contribution to nuclear disarmament.
The group urged India and Pakistan to resume political dialogue to reduce tension. It also expressed concern over the escalation of conflict in the Middle East, appealing for Israel and Palestine to seek a peaceful settlement of their disputes.
Jiang said it is essential for forward-looking and responsible politicians to discard the Cold War mentality and pioneer a new outlook on security to establish a just and reasonable new international order.
Jiang said the "Shanghai Spirit'' -- formed in the process of the development of the Shanghai Five, which features mutual trust, mutual advantages, equality, joint consultations, respect for cultural diversity and the desire for common development -- serves as important and instructive inspiration for keeping world peace and promoting the common development of all nations.
"Facts have proven that the establishment of this organization was correct and I am fully confident of its future,'' Jiang said.
(China Daily June 8, 2002)