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Russia engaged in active preparations for SCO summit, says senior diplomat

Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said the decision to postpone the summit to autumn was supported by all member countries of the organization

MOSCOW, July 2./TASS/. Russia continues active preparations for a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in St. Petersburg, postponed to autumn amid the coronavirus pandemic, Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said in an interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman on Thursday.

"Of course, preparations for the SCO summit is our main task at the moment, and we are actively working on this. We are now working on details of a St. Petersburg declaration, which will submitted for approval of the [SCO] leaders. We are also planning to pass a number of statements on international issues and certain economic documents, work on which is also underway," the diplomat said.

According to him, the decision to postpone the summit to autumn was supported by all member countries of the organization. "But again, if the epidemiological situation in the SCO space, which regretfully remains difficult, allows us [to have a summit in autumn]. We have to admit this," the deputy foreign minister said.

The diplomat emphasized that coronavirus restrictions imposed by the SCO member countries were affecting practical cooperation within the framework of the organization and the amount of contacts between ministries and departments. "Against this background, of course our task for today is to harmonize methods of joint work. Especially since Russia currently holds the presidency of the SCO. This is exceptionally our sphere of responsibility to propose some new methods of teamwork to our partners in order to not only maintain cooperation, but to give it an additional impetus at this difficult period of time," Morgulov noted.

According to him, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has passed "the strength test" and has demonstrated its ability to adapt to new realities. "Major events were held online - a meeting of the foreign ministers, heads of the sanitary-epidemiological services, tourist organizations, experts in the sectors of healthcare, transport and finance," he explained.

The SCO and BRICS summits were supposed to be held in St. Petersburg on July 21-23. On May 27, the Kremlin press service announced that the events were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Kremlin noted that the "new dates for the summits will be determined depending on further development of the epidemiological situation in the member states and in the world in general.".