SCO defence ministers meet in Moscow
Defence ministers from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan gathered in the Russian capital to attend the second session of top defence officials from member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which opened on Wednesday. The only absent member is Uzbekistan, whose defence minister "could not attend because of a busy schedule," as diplomatic sources put it, while the headquarters for coordinating military cooperation said that, supposedly, refusal of the Uzbek military delegation to attend was "somehow connected with yesterday's decisions made in the framework of the Collective Security Treaty." The conference began with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, the Chairman of the current session, greeting the assembly and saying, "Hopefully this meeting will promote rise and development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization." He suggested focusing on two issues: the military and political situation in the Central Asian region and around it, plus security and defence tasks facing SCO defence ministers in this connection; and the summing up of results of the conference in a joint communique, a draft of which authorized representatives of SCO defence ministries had prepared beforehand. The rest of the conference is taking place behind closed doors. Ivanov said that after the first day of the conference, defence ministers would meet with journalists to answer their questions. He also suggested that a number of bilateral meetings between defence ministers be held on the second day of the conference.