SCO admits Afghanistan as observer, Turkey as dialogue partner

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has also decided to accept Turkey as a dialogue partner, Chinese President Hu Jintao said.

Beijing: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has decided to grant Afghanistan observer status, and accept Turkey as a dialogue partner, Chinese President Hu Jintao said on Thursday.

Hu announced the decision made by the SCO member states at a press conference held after the SCO Beijing summit running from Wednesday to Thursday in Beijing. China currently serves as SCO president.

Member states of the SCO will work to facilitate trade and investment, in a bid to tap economic potential within the bloc, Hu said.

Hu told the media that SCO member states have agreed to enhance cooperation in the sectors of finance, transportation, energy, telecommunications and agriculture.

To advance regional economic development, the organisation will forge ahead with its work on the establishment of a special account and development bank, Hu noted.

This year marks the beginning of the second decade of the SCO. Its development in the next decade will weigh heavily on the peace and development of its member states, the region and the world, according to the Chinese President.

He explained that member states have approved a mid-term development strategic plan, and agreed to build the SCO into a harmonious community.

With terrorism, separatism and extremism as well as other transnational crimes on the rise, SCO member states have agreed to enhance their capacity for early warnings and handling emergencies, and make the organisation a reliable guarantor of regional security, Hu said.

The SCO member states believe it is necessary to promote cultural and educational exchanges, and expand their channels for people-to-people exchanges and social interaction.

All SCO member states have agreed to improve the organisation and are committed to external exchanges. The SCO will strengthen cooperation with its observer states and dialogue partners, the United Nations and its affiliated organisations, as well as other international and regional organisations, Hu said.

Kyrgyzstan will fill the SCO`s rotating presidency after the Beijing summit, Hu said.

China will continue to support the SCO`s development, and provide aid within its capacity to other member states of the SCO, according to Hu.

The SCO was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, and currently has six full members -- China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India are the four observer states, and its dialogue partners include Belarus and Sri Lanka.