MOSCOW, June 6 (RIA Novosti) - The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not just an oriental version of NATO, and there are no plans to turn it into a military alliance, the organization's executive secretary said Tuesday.
"The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not an eastern equivalent of NATO. It will never become a military grouping because its charter envisages no such status," Zhang Deguang told a Moscow-Beijing video conference at RIA Novosti ahead of the organization's summit in Shanghai on June 15.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a regional cooperation and security association comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Deguang said the Shanghai summit would mark the fifth anniversary of the organization, and said he hoped it would produce some crucial decisions.
India, Mongolia, Iran, and Pakistan are observers in the organization, though Pakistan is expected to apply for full membership at this month's summit. Deguang said observer countries would not have voting rights at the summit.
"Their participation will be restricted," he said.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said May 30 that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was planning to attend the summit, and added that Tehran was seeking to strengthen cooperation with the organization's member states.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.