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SCO Defense Ministers Discuss Regional Security Issues
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Hosted by Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan, six defense ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) gathered in Beijing on Wednesday for regional security talks.

The six SCO member countries agreed to stage a joint anti-terror military exercise in 2007 in Russia, according to a joint communiqué  signed in the wake of the SCO defense ministers' meeting involving China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

An expert group will be set up to coordinate preparation and implementation of the joint anti terror military exercise, the communiqué explained. 

Except Uzbekistan the other five countries of the SCO held their first-ever joint anti-terror exercise within the framework of the SCO in August 2003 with the first phase in Kazakhstan and the second in China.

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

Ten years ago China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, known as the "Shanghai Five", met in Shanghai and reached an agreement on the buildup of mutual-trust in the military field along the border regions, Cao said.

The "Shanghai Five" evolved into the SCO in 2001 by adding Uzbekistan as a member. Now the group is the only international organization named after a Chinese city.

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

The defense ministers are expected to discuss regional security issues, including the fight against the "three forces" of separatism, terrorism and extremism and other issues of common concern.

A string of one-on-one meetings between defense ministers are also scheduled.

(Xinhua News Agency April 26, 2006)

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