Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (4th L) attends the 16th meeting of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) in Sochi, Russia, Dec. 1, 2017. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
SOCHI, Russia, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Government leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries pledged to enhance cooperation to battle economic challenges here on Friday.
A joint communique was approved at the 16th meeting of the Council of the SCO Heads of Government (Prime Ministers), which was held in Sochi from Thursday to Friday.
The meeting was the first of its kind after a membership expansion in June to include India and Pakistan. The SCO now has China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan as its full members.
According to the communique, the leaders promised to actively carry out the agreement reached during the 17th meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO, which was held in June in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan.
They also expressed support for China's rotating presidency for 2017 to 2018. The communique called on the member countries to actively tap new potentials from the accession of India and Pakistan into the organization.
The leaders pointed out that the world economic prospects could face adverse impact imposed by global terrorism, regional conflicts and natural disasters. In order to attain robust, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, it is important to carry out equality-based cooperation, the communique said.
The SCO members need to take coordinated actions and improve international monetary and financial system, under the background of unstable financial and raw materials markets, fluctuating foreign exchange rates and rising protectionism, according to the communique.
The members advocated an open, inclusive, transparent, non-discriminatory and rule-based multilateral trading system and called on the countries to prevent fragmentation of international trade relations and to resist trade protectionism.
The leaders advocated cooperation in the fields of trade, industrial capacity, energy, transportation, railway, investment, finance, agriculture, customs and telecommunications.
They pledged support for technological innovation and are ready to exchange experiences in making national economic plans, promoting economic growth and facilitating commerce.
The leaders have also agreed to keep up with professional discussions on and jointly make a plan for the establishment of the SCO development bank and fund, according to the communique.
The SCO leaders welcomed China, within the framework of the SCO's rotating presidency, to hold activities to promote the "Shanghai spirit" and develop partnership among the younger generations, and offer support for interactions between youth associations in the member countries, the communique said.
It is important to carry out cooperation in culture, education, science and technology, environmental protection, health, media, sports, tourism, academics and the preservation of cultural and natural heritage of the SCO region.
They will also continue to promote cultural exchanges, strengthen mutual understanding between different peoples, respect their respective cultural traditions, preserve cultural diversity, and hold related international exhibitions, festivals and competitions, the communique said.
Countries should study different cultures and preserve the region's cultural and natural heritage, including those along the "Silk Road."
The SCO leaders also emphasized to step up cooperation in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism in the current international and regional situation.
They agreed to support the efforts of Afghanistan in improving domestic situation via political consultations and dialogue so as to restore peace, stability and prosperity in the country.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, when addressing the SCO leaders, urged the SCO member countries to approve an anti-extremism treaty at an early date.
The treaty was signed by eight member countries in June's Astana summit in Kazakhstan, and it needs to be approved by all of its member countries to become effective.
The document shows the region's decisive resolution in the fight against the "three evil forces," namely terrorism, extremism and separatism, Li said.
Li also suggested the establishment of a regional center to address security challenges and threats, and to augment cooperation in drug control and fighting cross-border crimes.