BEIJING, March 2 (RIA Novosti, Alexei Yefimov) - Russia and China are planning joint counterterrorism training exercises in the spring of 2007, the Russian interior minister said Thursday.
"We have made plans to conduct the exercises in spring 2007 in [Russia's] Southern Federal District," Rashid Nurgaliyev said.
The exercises will involve special forces from China's Public Security Ministry and Russia's Interior Ministry, as well as the Russian Interior Ministry Forces.
"We will develop skills for cooperation in accomplishing objectives to counter the threat of terrorism," Nurgaliyev said, adding that the exercises would be large-scale.
Nurgaliyev is Beijing for meetings with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security to discuss in law enforcement. At the end of the Thursday meeting, a protocol was signed on forming a joint task force for cooperation between the departments to counter trans-border crime, along with other draft agreements.
Nurgaliyev said positive results in cooperation with China had been attained "primarily in the area of countering trans-border crime," and that active cooperation was underway between Russia's Far East and Siberian districts and the neighboring Chinese provinces.
Russian and Chinese law-enforcement agencies of the two countries are working together to catch criminals, and to search for and detain smugglers illegally transporting natural resources from Russia to China, he said.
After the meeting, Nurgaliyev met with Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong, who said the visit would "provide a boost to bilateral cooperation in the law enforcement sphere."
Russia and China held their first joint military exercises, Peace Mission 2005, in August 2005.
The two countries are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional security and economic forum founded in Shanghai in July 2001 along with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. An SCO antiterrorism center was opened in Shanghai in 2003.