Foreign ministers of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will discuss the settlement of the situation in Afghanistan and around it at its extraordinary session scheduled for January 7th in Beijing, official spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti. According to him, the agenda of the session also includes issues pertaining to stepping up the activity of the organisation by the SCO summit to be held in the summer of 2002. The diplomat pointed out that "the need to hold this session is explained by the deep changes going on in the region and directly concerning the interests of the SCO states." Yakovenko recalled that Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan which are SCO members had for many years felt the destabilising influence coming from the territory of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. More than that, the diplomat underlined, "the creation of the organisation was in many things a reply to terrorist and other threats of a new generation." The situation changed when the Taliban regime collapsed. But the terrorist threat has not been liquidated. "These main factors of the current development of the situation are expected to be discussed at the extraordinary session of the SCO states' foreig! ! n ministers", Yakovenko concluded. One can get free access to the full text of the RIA Novosti interview given by official spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry Alexander Yakovenko on the web site: www.rian.ru.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the termination of diplomatic relations with NATO at a time when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ended a meeting in Georgia with his counterpart