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SCO Anti-terror Drill Gets Underway
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The chiefs of staff of armed forces of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member countries ordered commanders of various troops to launch a long-prepared anti-terror drill "Peace Mission 2007" at noontime in Urumqi on Thursday, following strategic consultations.

The drill attended by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan "is not intended to aim at any third party," said Liang Guanglie, Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, at a press conference.

"It does not concern the interest of any third party nor makes threat to any country," he said, following the negotiations at the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

According to Liang, Presidents of the SCO member countries and their secretaries of defence will arrive at the drill venues to observe the drill. It will also attract hundreds of journalists and foreign military attaches.

Liang said the drill will be carried out in line with the Charter of the United Nations and the Charter of the SCO.

General Liang presided over the consultations attended by Chiefs of Staff of armed forces of the SCO member countries. Chinese and Russian general directors of the joint drill, PLA's General Xu Qiliang and Russian Admiral Vladimir Moltensky, delivered reports on the plans, preparations and implementation of the drill to the Chiefs of Staff.

Liang declared the official commence of the joint drill at 12:00 (Beijing time) commissioned by Chiefs of Staff of the SCO member countries.

"The joint anti-terror drill will enhance mutual trust among SCO members in military and security fields," Liang said, adding that the drill will also improve the members' abilities to deal with new challenges and threats.

The drill is of great importance for the members in jointly maintaining and ensuring regional peace and stability, Liang said.

Kazakhstan Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Mukhtar Altynbayev said that terrorism, separatism and religious extremism constitute immediate threats to the people of the SCO member countries and jointly cracking down on the three evil forces is a main task of the SCO.

Kyrgyzstan Chief of the General Staff Boris Ugai said that SCO members have conducted fruitful cooperation in recent years in defence and called for enhancing the cooperation to safeguard their common interests.

The top priority of the cooperation among SCO members is to maintain regional peace and enhance regional security and mutual trust, said Russian Chief of the General Staff Yury Baluyevsky.

Tajik Chief of the General Staff Ramil Nadirov said cooperation with SCO members is one of the most important foreign policies of Tajikistan.

About 6,500 troops and 80 aircraft are expected to take part in the drill, including 2,000 troops and 36 aircraft from Russia, in Chelyabinsk in Russia and in Urumqi from Aug. 9 to 17.

A total of 1,600 officers and soldiers from land and air forces of Chinese People's Liberation Army will participate in the drill held at Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural Mountainous region.

(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2007)

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