President Putin leaves for St. Petersburg to attend SCO summit

This week, the center of political activity moves from Moscow to St. Petersburg, which is now getting ready to host summit meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Council of Baltic States, and a meeting between the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan. On Thursday, Vladimir Putin leaves Moscow for the Northern Capital to attend these meetings.

The program of international events opens with the SCO summit, during which the member states are expected to sign a SCO Charter, a sizable political Declaration, and an Agreement on a regional anti-terrorist structure, which is meant as a standing body coordinating activity of corresponding competent services from each SCO member.

In an interview with the Chinese newspaper Renmin Ribao, the Russian president classified the signing of the Charter as "a serious international event." He also stressed that the SCO wasn't "a military bloc of some kind." "We think the organization is capable of playing an extremely important role in our effort to create a favorable atmosphere for Asian development," remarked Putin.

In the framework of the summit, the Russian president will meet with the Chinese leader to discuss the Indian-Pakistani conflict. Apart from that, Putin and Jiang Zemin will focus on issues dealing with activity inside the SCO and bilateral cooperation, especially that in the field of economy, military and military-and-technical matters, and development of transport and communications.

Putin will also hold a meeting with Azerbaijani President Geidar Aliyev, who arrives in St. Petersburg on June 9, to consider bilateral affairs, situation in the region, and settlement of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict.

A diplomatic source in Moscow reported that Putin and Aliyev may sign an agreement on division of the floor of the Caspian Sea.

"The sides reached an agreement in principle that they will sign this document, and are busy elaborating on the details," said the source, adding that they might sign not just the agreement on delimitation of the sea floor, but also a protocol defining geographical coordinates of the Russian-Azerbaijani "median point" on the floor of the Caspian. As of today, Russia has already signed a similar protocol with Kazakhstan.

June 10 will see the prime ministers from the Council of Baltic States arriving in St. Petersburg to hold a summit meeting. Putin is expected to attend and may also hold a number of bilateral meetings with foreign leaders. The centerpiece of the discussion falls on the Kaliningrad region in the light of the upcoming enlargement of the European Union.

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