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UPDATED: 08:17, November 29, 2006
CIS countries agree reform mandate, sign cooperation deals
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Leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on Tuesday instructed their foreign ministers to draw up plans for reforms of the organization by next June and signed a series of deals including one on cooperation in cracking down on illegal immigration.

The 12-member CIS was set up after the break-up of the Soviet Union to try to maintain economic and political ties but has long faced criticism from both inside and outside over the effectiveness of its work.

"CIS foreign ministers should develop and submit the package (on reform) for consideration by the heads of state by June 1, 2007, " Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose country holds the rotating CIS presidency, told a closing news conference.

A day earlier, the foreign ministers decided to establish a ministerial working group on reforming the 15-year-old organization.

At the one-day summit in the Belarussian capital, the heads of state agreed on strengthening measures to combat illegal immigration and signed an agreement on the head of an CIS anti- terrorist center. But they failed to agree on a declaration on border demarcation between CIS member states.

The CIS groups all the former Soviet republics except the three Baltic states. The Minsk meeting was attended by 11 heads of state. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov did not show up, as in previous summits, and sent a deputy prime minister for the meeting. The leaders decided to meet again in June 2007 in St. Petersburg.

Source: Xinhua

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