SCO defense ministers gather in Dushanbe to discuss cooperation

SCO defense ministers gather in Dushanbe to discuss cooperation
The defense ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member nations – Russia, China, Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan -- have gathered in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe for an annual meeting.
The SCO secretary-general and the defense minister of Belarus will also attend the meeting.  The Belarusian defense minister will attend the meeting as a guest, Colonel Faridoun Mahmadalizoda, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan, told Asia-Plus in an interview.  
This year Tajikistan is chair of the Organization.  Presided over by the Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Mirzo, the meeting will focus on issues related to the defense cooperation among the SCO member nations.  
The growing instability in Afghanistan is expected to top the agenda of the SCO defense ministers’ meeting.  Afghanistan holds an observer status in SCO, which is the most appropriate forum to discuss the security situation there.   
The SCO defense ministers will also discuss the place and date of conducting joint military exercises, dubbed “Peace Mission – 2021.”  The SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure said in early March this year that the ‘Peace Mission-2021’ - anti-terrorist command and staff exercise of the SCO member nations will be held in the summer at one of the training grounds of the Central Military District (CMD).   
The meeting of the Council of Defense Minister of the SCO member nations will result in adoption of the Dushanbe Declaration.  
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was founded at a Summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization currently has eight full members -- China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, India, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  As a grouping SCO occupies 60 per cent of the Eurasian continent, with a collective population of 3 billion people.
Besides, Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia are four observer states, and SCO’s dialogue partners include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.  ACEAN, CIS, Turkmenistan and the United Nations are guest attendances.
The SCO now represents around 42% of the world’s population

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