CHINA / National

Six SCO nations to stage military exercises in Russia
Updated: 2006-04-26 14:47

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) consisting of six nations will hold joint military exercises in Russia in 2007, aiming at anti-terrorism, according to a report of the Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday.

The six SCO countries, including Russia, China and four Central Asian states, announced the drills in a communique issued after a one-day meeting of their defense ministers in Beijing.

"The military exercise is not targeted at any third country," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told the press following the meeting, stressing the SCO is not a military or political bloc.

An expert group will be set up to coordinate the preparation and implementation of the joint war game, the communique said.

The defense ministers also discussed regional security during their meeting in Beijing.

"This defense ministers meeting will review the past and exchange views on issues of common concern," Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan said in the opening address Wednesday morning.

The five visiting defense ministers to the Beijing meeting were Kyrgyzstan's Ismail Isakov, Russsia's Sergei Ivanov, Tajikistan's Sherali Khairullaev and Uzbekistan's Ruslan Mirzayevare and Kazakhstan's B. Darbekov.

The SCO was founded in 2001 from a loose regional alliance set up in 1996. It groups Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, China and Russia. Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Iran are observer countries at SCO meetings.

Member nations staged their first anti-terror joint military drills in August 2003 in Kazakhstan and China's northwestern Xinjiang autonomous region.

China and Russia held joint military exercises in the eastern province of Shandong in August 2005, the only time their two armies have cooperated on a big scale since the Korean War ended in the 1950s.

Those maneuvers, aimed at quelling ethnic conflicts and resisting any interference by a third force -- were seen as a sign that the SCO had begun to show some teeth after a low-key start, analysts said.

The organization has a mandate to combat terrorism, local extremism and Islamic radicalism throughout the region.



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