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Fireworks, Cruise and Handshakes Precede SCO Summit
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Fireworks lit up Shanghai's sky Wednesday night when participants to the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) enjoyed the city's nightscape from a sightseeing boat cruising along the Huangpu River.


Aboard the boat were Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and Uzbek President Islam Karimov.


The special treat was given on the eve of the annual meeting of the intergovernmental organization slated for Thursday, five years after the SCO was established in China's largest city.


In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the SCO, the six member countries have invited to the summit presidents of Mongolia, Pakistan and Iran, and a representative of the Indian government. The four countries hold SCO observer status.


Afghan President Hamid Karzai will also attend the SCO summit as a guest of the host country.


The honored participants received warm welcome from hospitable Chinese as they came into spotlight successively at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Children presented them with bouquets.


On Wednesday afternoon, Chinese President Hu Jintao joined his counterparts from the other five SCO members to plant a magnolia tree at a hotel in western Shanghai.


Magnolia flower is the symbol of Shanghai. Magnolia trees can live for as long as 1,000 years. It is said the long-lived tree signifies the SCO's vitality.


Hu also held separate talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov, stressing China's determination to strengthen good neighborly ties with these countries and enhance anti-terrorism cooperation with all the SCO members.


One major function of the SCO is to fight the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism, said Liu Jianchao, spokesman for the Chinese delegation to the SCO summit, at a news briefing in the media center of the summit Wednesday night.


He said anti-terrorism has become a consensus of the international community and does not allow double standards.


"Under the current international situation, a single nation can hardly accomplish the fight against terrorism. The international community should join hands to combat terrorism," Liu said.


"All security measures in the city for the summit are necessary to ensure a smooth proceeding of the meeting and the safety of all participants," he told dozens of reporters, his voice hardly audible as crackers and fireworks banged outside.


In a latest move to promote regional economic cooperation, a SCO Entrepreneurs' Committee was established Wednesday. The committee is a non-governmental organization to promote multilateral cooperation in trade, finance, science and technology, energy, transportation, telecommunication and agriculture.


Also on Wednesday, the SCO Banks Consortium accepted Settlement and Savings Company of Kyrgyzstan as a full member. The consortium, established in Moscow last October to render financial support to enhance regional trade and economic cooperation, has comprised one bank from each of the SCO member countries.


(Xinhua News Agency June 15, 2006)

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