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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2006, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Russia to host Asian war drills
A defence exhibition in Beijing
The Shanghai six are aiming to strengthen defence links
China, Russia and four Central Asian countries will hold joint anti-terrorism exercises in Russia next year, they have announced.

The six nations agreed the moves at a defence ministers' meeting in Beijing.

The Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO) comprises Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as China and Russia.

The grouping has been growing closer as the nations say they want to co-operate over internal or external threats.

"The threat of SCO borders being crossed by armed groups is absolutely real," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

He said the armed forces of member states "should, if needed, help neighbouring states block and possibly destroy large armed groups".

Terrorism, religious extremism and separatism were identified as the threats central to Wednesday's meeting, by a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman.

Several of the countries say they face a threat from Islamic militants in particular.

The group was founded in 2001, and all the countries except Uzbekistan held their first joint military exercises in 2003.

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