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The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
"The Chinese are adamantly opposed to any form of missile defence"
 real 56k

Friday, 15 June, 2001, 01:46 GMT 02:46 UK
Shanghai plan to fight extremism
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin
Russia and China want to increase cooperation
Russia, China and four central Asian countries meeting in Shanghai have pledged to fight the spread of Islamic militancy, and to work towards establishing closer ties.

Leaders from the newly named Shanghai Co-operation Organisation will sign an agreement on Friday aimed at curbing "extremism, terrorism and separatism".

Attending the summit
Russia
China
Kyrgyzstan
Tajikistan
Kazakhstan
Uzbekistan
On Thursday, Uzbekistan became the sixth member of the a 5-year-old regional group, which Moscow and Beijing hope will counterbalance growing US influence.

A BBC correspondent in Moscow says the addition of Uzbekistan - where authorities are fighting one of the region's strongest rebel groups - is a logical progression.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met Chinese President Jiang Zemin for talks ahead of the Russian leader's first meeting with US President George W Bush on Saturday.

The two leaders have serious reservations about Mr Bush's missile defence proposals, especially his hopes to scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.


Our views on US missile defence fully coincide with China's

Igor Ivanov,
Russian foreign minister
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters in Shanghai that the two countries regularly consulted about US missile defence plans and that their views "fully coincide".

The organisation, originally called the Shanghai Five, was set up in 1996 to sort out lingering Sino-Russian border disputes.

Five becomes six

The five original members - China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan - will now be joined by Uzbekistan, the most populous country in Central Asia.

US Patriot missile
The summit is expected to condemn US plans for a missile defence system
Speaking in Moscow before joining the summit, Mr Putin said measures were needed to fight terrorism and organised crime in the region.

"Russia's withdrawal from Central Asia after the fall of the Soviet Union created a vacuum ... which religious extremists and terrorist organisations are trying to fill," he warned.

China, with a large and restive Muslim population in its far west, is keen to stem the growth of Islamic militancy in Central Asia and prevent groups there linking up with Muslim separatists inside China.

All the countries at the summit are dealing with Muslim guerrillas to some extent, many of whom are believed to receive support from Afghanistan's militant Muslim Taleban movement.

Broader ambitions

But China also has broader ambitions to build the Shanghai group into a bulwark against American influence in Central Asia.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says that when the summit resumes on Friday it is expected to adopt a Chinese-sponsored resolution condemning the US for its plans to build a missile defence system. Russia is expected to give its support to the motion.

But American investment in Central Asian oil-rich states like Kazakhstan far outstrips that of either Russia or China, and our correspondent says these smaller states may be more reluctant to get drawn into China's plans.

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See also:

05 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Leaders upbeat for Dushanbe summit
10 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
OSCE warns of Islamic militancy
30 Apr 01 | Media reports
China's Islamic concerns
09 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
China and Russia sign border pact
25 Aug 99 | Asia-Pacific
Leaders pledge to protect borders
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