The leaders of Russia and four ex-Soviet states pledged to boost security and energy cooperation on Thursday at a summit with China in energy-rich Central Asia whose resources are coveted by the West.
Participants of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) -- Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- also said they wanted to play a bigger role in helping Afghanistan and in fighting drugs trafficking. "Ensuring security and stability of the SCO states, neutralizing terrorism, separatism and extremism remains the key task," Russian President Vladimir Putin told the summit. Initially set up to fix border problems with China after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the SCO has sought to adopt the role of a security organization.
The summit in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek coincided with joint military exercises in Chelyabinsk in Russia's Urals. Thousands of Russian and Chinese troops backed by detachments from Central Asian states were training together to practice quelling a separatist rebellion, prompting Russian daily Izvestia to dub the SCO the anti-NATO .
Putin called on SCO partners to introduce legislation enabling further anti-terrorism exercises, the training of security staff for member states and enhancing cooperation with other regional multilateral organizations. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said the European Union and the 56-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe could become partners of the SCO.
The summit took place against a backdrop of growing international rivalry for access to Central Asian oil and gas.
The region is seen by the United States and Europe as a promising alternative energy source to reduce their dependence on Russia. But energy-hungry China is also seeking access to its hydrocarbons while Russia wants to maintain its stranglehold on export routes that lead towards Europe. Earlier this year, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan signed a deal to revive and expand a Soviet-era system to deliver gas from the Caspian region.
Last Mod: 17 Ağustos 2007, 17:48