Terrorism poses a serious threat and drug trafficking and organised crimes are on the rise, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said as he expressed confidence in the SCO bloc's ability to respond promptly to the "new acute challenges."
Putin on Wednesday held a meeting via video conference with foreign ministers of the 8-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is representing India at the meeting here in the Russian capital.
The SCO plays a major role in ensuring peace and security, as well as sustainable development in Eurasia, he said.
"Terrorism poses a serious threat, and drug trafficking, organised crime and cybercrime are on the rise," Putin said.
"To reiterate, the security situation in Eurasia and neighbouring regions still requires special attention on the part of the SCO. The situation in Afghanistan remains tense, and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa continue unabated," he said.
"Acting on the principles of equality and mutual consideration for everyone's interests, we strive to conduct a joint search for ways of resolving today's global challenges and we maintain close foreign policy coordination, including in the UN and other international venues," Putin said.
According to Putin, the SCO has shown an ability to respond promptly to new acute challenges.
"We are undertaking concerted efforts to overcome the political, trade, economic and social ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic," he said.
Much remains to be done to expand the interaction between the SCO countries in economic cooperation, to build technological partnerships and create a common transport and logistics infrastructure, to convert to national currencies in mutual transactions as previously agreed, Putin said.
He said it was gratifying to know that other countries and international organisations were increasingly interested in working with the SCO.
"We have received 16 requests to join our organisation as member states, observers or dialogue partners. This illustrates the authority our organisation enjoys internationally," Putin said.
The SCO currently comprises eight member states: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and four observer states which include Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia.
Putin said the foreign ministers' meeting traditionally comes as the final stage of preparations for a meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council, which Russia will use to end its chairmanship in the organisation and hand it over to Tajikistan.
"I would like to note that against the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic, the Russian presidency (in the SCO) has tried to do all it can for the SCO to work effectively and without losing its pace," he said.
"As you are aware, due to the epidemiological situation, we, unfortunately, were not able to hold the meeting of the Heads of State Council that was initially planned for July,' he said.
"We are working to hold it online in November. I am confident that, at the upcoming summit, we will be able to substantively and in a business-like manner discuss ways to expand comprehensive cooperation within the SCO," he added.
He expressed hope that SCO leaders will have engaging and useful discussions in Moscow that would help them strengthen partnership and cooperation throughout the vast space of the bloc.
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