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China, Kyrgyzstan to strengthen military cooperation

BEIJING, August 23 (RIA Novosti, Alexei Yefimov) - Beijing and Bishkek are ready to strengthen cooperation between their armed forces, the Chinese defense minister said Tuesday.

Cao Gangchuan, China's defense minister and deputy chairman of the Central Military Council, held a meeting with Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov Tuesday, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Isakov is in the Chinese city of Qingdao to observe the Russian-Chinese Peace Mission 2005 military exercises.

In October 2002, the armed forces of China and Kyrgyzstan held their first joint counter-terrorism exercise within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose members include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

The Chinese defense minister said his country wants to further strengthen relations and cooperation between the armies of both countries in anti-terrorism efforts. He added that SCO member states also needed to step up their cooperation.

Isakov expressed confidence that the current Russian-Chinese exercises would build up the international prestige of China, Russia, and the SCO.

Gangchuan also held bilateral meetings Tuesday with the defense minister of Tajikistan and the deputy defense minister of Kazakhstan, also in Qingdao as observers.

The Chinese defense minister invited officers from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan to attend the second SCO symposium on defense and security in fall 2005.

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