BEIJING: Greater practical economic and cultural cooperation is the main topic on the agenda of the eighth prime ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states which opened in Beijing Wednesday.
The meeting, held in the Great Hall of the People, is being chaired by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and attended by his counterparts from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives from the SCO observer nations and Afghanistan.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R) shakes hands with Tajikistan Prime Minister Akil Akilov during a welcoming ceremony for the Shanghai Coorperation Organization Summit at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 14, 2009. [Agencies]
In a series of closed-door discussions, the leaders will mainly focus on how to deepen economic and cultural pragmatic cooperation against the background of international and regional challenges.
Wen and other leaders will review progress in economic and cultural cooperation since the 7th prime ministers' meeting in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, last October.
They would also analyze international and regional situations and draw up plans for the priorities of future work based on the consensus reached at the annual summit of the SCO in Russia's Yekaterinburg in June.
Before the meeting, Wen suggested they first discuss the prime ministers' meeting schedules and then exchange views on issues related to the SCO growth.
Wen said, "I believe that the meeting will make positive results and reach the expected goals with our joint efforts."
At the start of a larger session, Wen welcomed all the attendants for their being present at the 8th prime ministers' meeting.
The financial crisis has brought about negative effect on the economic growth of countries in this region, said Wen, adding that various sides have reached important consensus in deepening cooperation and jointly tackling the economic downturn within the framework of the SCO.
He noted that this prime ministers' meeting provided a sound platform for various countries to conduct exchanges and decide on specific measures in related fields.
After the meeting, the prime ministers of the SCO member states will attend a ceremony for the signing of agreements and meet the media.
Senior government officials say the meeting is the most important event of the SCO in the latter half of 2009 and the second SCO prime ministers' meeting sponsored by China since 2003.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya said in Beijing at a news briefing for the meeting last Friday that it would have a far-reaching impact in implementing the Yekaterinburg summit consensus and the treaty of long-term friendship and cooperation of SCO members, and in promoting development of the SCO and building a peaceful, prosperous and harmonious region.
The SCO comprises China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Mongolia, India, Iran and Pakistan are observers to the regional organization.