BEIJING, August 18 (RIA Novosti, Alexei Yefimov) - The first Russian-Chinese military exercises have opened a new era in bilateral military cooperation, a Russian diplomat said Thursday. Sergei Goncharov, Russia's temporary charge d'affaires in China said joint Russian-Chinese exercises brought bilateral relations and military cooperation to a new level and "opened a new era in bilateral military cooperation."
The diplomat said the exercises were not directed against any country and targeted effective joint efforts on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism.
The eight-day exercises, under way until Aug. 25, involve 10,000 troops, including 1,880 Russian military personnel.
Goncharov said this number of troops is "sufficient enough" for the first exercises, adding that future exercises would involve more troops.
"The Russian-Chinese agreement on the status of Russian military units temporarily deployed to China and Chinese military units temporarily deployed to Russia for joint military maneuvers" is long-term and not limited to the current exercises, he said.
A source within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which involves Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, declined to comment on the exercises.
"These exercises are purely bilateral and in no way linked with the SCO," the source said.
The ceremonial opening of the exercises was held in the Russian Far-eastern city of Vladivostok Thursday.
The first stage of the exercises involves consultations between military delegations from the two countries in Vladivostok.
The second and final stage of the exercise will be conducted off the Jiaodong Peninsula in the coastal Chinese province of Shandong, involving army and naval units and aviation units.