The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), described by some as Russia and China’s ‘alternative NATO’, is meeting in Moscow today with the issue of Afghanistan high on the agenda. Key players of next Tuesday’s Afghanistan Conference in The Hague will attend the Moscow meeting. These include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his NATO counterpart, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. Their presence underlines the importance of the ‘regional context’ that the US, the UN and NATO seek to focus on in solving the problems of Afghanistan.
Besides Russia and China, the SCO comprises Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The organisation also has four permanent ‘Observer States’: India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan which, with the exception of Mongolia, will also play an important role at the The Hague conference. Interestinlgy enough, the US State Department also dispatched a representative to the Moscow meeting who may (or may not) meet with the Iranian delegation.
(Update: click here for the final statement of the Moscow SCO meeting)