Fri, Aug 10, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Four central Asian states join Russia, China military drill

AFP , BEIJING

China, Russia and four central Asian nations began a joint anti-terror military drill in a remote Muslim-dominated Chinese region yesterday, state press reported.

The exercise involves a total of 6,000 troops and 36 aircraft from the six nations.

Dubbed "Peace Mission 2007," the drill among the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is being held in China's Xinjiang region for two days, and then continuing in Chelyabinsk, Russia, from tomorrow to next Friday, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Chiefs of staff from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan held strategic negotiations in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, at the start of the drill, Xinhua said.

The military exercises "will enhance the exchange among SCO member countries and improve their counterterror capabilities," it said earlier.

The SCO grew out of a regional effort in the mid-1990s to reduce military forces among common borders. It later came to involve anti-terrorism efforts and cooperation in the economic and energy fields.

The organization is China's most concerted effort at promoting a regional multilateral forum, but some Western critics say it is ultimately aimed at countering US influence in central Asia.

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