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Putin Wants A Stronger Shanghai Cooperation Organization

A soldier in the first joint SCO counterterrorism held in 2003 (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) May 30, 2006 -- President Vladimir Putin said today that Russia will seek to strengthen the role and authority of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) so that it becomes "an efficient guarantor of stability and security in a vast region of Eurasia."

The SCO is dominated by Russia and China, but also includes Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Putin said he noted "with satisfaction" that the international community is showing "greater interest" in the SCO, which is now 10 years old.

"We also see attempts to create some sort of competition with our organization in the international arena," he said, in an apparent reference to growing U.S. influence in the region.

However, Putin said the SCO should not engage in competition with other regional groupings.

Putin's comments came as he met with top delegates from the SCO's member states in Moscow.

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad of Iran, which holds observer status in the SCO, has been invited to attend the group's summit in Shanghai on June 15.

(Interfax, ITAR-TASS, AP)