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SCO members to launch joint anti-terror drill
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08:03, July 13, 2007

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The six member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will stage a joint anti-terrorism drill from August 9 to 17, China's Ministry of Defense announced Thursday in Beijing.

The exercises, dubbed "Peace Mission 2007", will be carried out in Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural Mountains region and in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

All six SCO members -- China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- will take part.

Altogether 1,600 soldiers from China's army and air force -- including airborne and logistic units -- will take part in the drill, the ministry said in a press release.

"In the past, China mainly sent navy forces to bilateral and multilateral military exercises," said Ou Yangwei, professor at the National Defense University.

"This is the first time China has sent airborne units to drills abroad," Ou added. "More units will take part in joint military drills in the future."

The exercises will explore ways of combating terrorism, separatism and extremism.

Heads of SCO member countries and their defense ministers will watch the joint military exercises, according to the ministry.

"The drill does not target other countries and does not involve interests of countries outside the SCO," said the press release.

"The drill mainly aims to showcase the improved security coordination among SCO members, the reinforced anti-terror capability of SCO members, the improved Sino-Russian relationship and the modernizing of members' armed forces," said military expert Peng Guangqian.

Peng, a researcher with the China's Academy of Military Sciences, said the SCO members cover 60 percent of Eurasia and have one fourth of the world's population.

"The stability and prosperity of the area is vital for world peace," he said.

In 2002, China began gradual participation in multilateral military exercises to broaden security cooperation with other countries.

Since then, the Chinese armed forces has held 17 military exercises with foreign armed forces including the other five SCO members, Pakistan, India, France, Britain, Australia, Thailand, and the United States.

Set up in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, the SCO aims to strengthen mutual trust and good-neighborly and friendly relations among member states, encourage further effective cooperation in various fields, jointly ensure regional peace, security and stability.

Source: Xinhua

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