NATIONAL

Do not impose vote on draft U.N. proposal, SCO tells G-4

Calls for `new security concept' for Asia-Pacific

Siddharth Varadarajan

ASTANA (KAZAKHSTAN): The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which India has just joined as an observer, ended its summit here on Tuesday with a call for United Nations reform to follow the "principle of the broadest possible agreement."

In a blunt reference to the G-4 draft framework resolution for expanding the U.N. Security Council, the SCO — which links China and Russia with Central Asia — said it opposed all attempts to "try to set a deadline for U.N. reform or to impose voting on draft proposals on which major differences exist."

Indian officials were, however, unfazed by this unflattering reference to one of New Delhi's most important diplomatic projects. They said the SCO's stand was not a surprise since it closely mirrors what Russia and China said in their communiqu� at the end of President Hu Jintao's visit to the Russian Federation last week. "Look, we know Russia's stand and China's stand and we know who is a member of the SCO," a senior official said. Though the decision on when exactly to table the draft would be taken by the G-4 collectively, the plan is to do so later this month, he said.

Apart from advocating consensus-based U.N. reforms, other sections of the SCO declaration bear the unmistakable impress of last week's landmark Sino-Russian joint statement on the principles for the `New World Order in the 21st Century.' Calling the globalisation process "controversial," the SCO said "the right of all peoples to their own path of development should be fully respected." Only "multinational cooperation based on principles of mutual respect, equality, non-interference into internal affairs of sovereign states, non-confrontational thinking and progressive movement towards democratisation in the field of international relations" could promote global peace and security, the final statement said.

The SCO heads of state also called upon the international community "regardless of any differences in ideologies or social structures" to shape "a new security concept" and world order based on strengthening mutual trust and "the establishment of a genuine partnership free from any claims to monopoly or dominance in international affairs."

In the field of human rights, "historical traditions and national distinctive features of any people and sovereign equality of all states should be fully and invariably respected," the declaration said.

Speaking to the press afterwards, Chinese President Hu Jintao said the SCO summit assumed great importance in the context of the "profound changes" under way in the regional situation.

The forum was entering a new period of pragmatic cooperation in which the task was to translate the existing potential into real and tangible results.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the SCO declaration had "great international significance" because of the need to "respect and protect the diversity of civilisations and development models."

In an indirect reference to the invasion of Iraq and the aggressive championing of "democracy" by the United States in the region and around the world, Mr. Putin said it was necessary to oppose "the imposition of templates on states through the use of force."

The Asia-Pacific region would play an important part in securing peace and development in the 21st century, the SCO heads of state noted, but said, "no dividing lines should ever emerge in the region as a whole or in any of its parts." The SCO declaration also envisages closer cooperation by member states to "effectively counteract new challenges and threats to international and regional security and stability."

Among the measures proposed are joint planning and implementation of anti-terrorist activities, cooperation in the "development and use of modern technical equipment used to fight new challenges and threats," the training of relevant personnel and harmonisation of national laws governing security provisions.

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