By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 16, 2007
Today marked the end of a week-long large-scale military exercise that included nearly 4,000 Chinese and Russian troops, paratroopers from Kazakhstan , Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and military officers from Uzbekistan.
The nations work in conjunction under the umbrella of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said the United States had requested participation in the events but was denied access.
The group of nations formed the cooperative among themselves, in part to shield the mineral wealthy nations from the influence of the United States. Relations between the central Asian former Soviet republics and the U.S. have cooled during the last several years. In 2005 Uzbekistan evicted U.S. troops from an airbase that was a hub into neighboring Afghanistan.
About 6,500 troops participated in the multinational war game, in which the nations deployed paratroops, 80 aircraft and hundreds of armored combat vehicles to suppress a simulated Islamic uprising, similar to one that occurred in Uzbekistan in 2005.
As a spin off to the military exercises, the SCO held its annual convention today. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited and attended the regional summit in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.
The Kazakh leader says meetings of SCO energy ministers and those of observer states should work as what he calls “an energy club,” – a basic element of an Asian energy strategy.
China has bilateral energy agreements with Russia and Iran.
Attending the SCO summit were Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Kazakh President Nazarbayev, Chinese President Hu, Kyrgyz President Bakiyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 16 August 2007.
President Putin continued to urge the multilateral approach, wich was written into today’s Bishkek Declaration. Much of the document signed by leaders of the SCO nations is devoted to security, which is broadly interpreted as a sound global economy, a reduction in poverty, as well as economic, ecological and energy security.
The Bishkek Declaration also highlights the need to fight terrorism. It cited Afghanistan’s extensive drug trade as a threat to security in the region. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, an invited SCO guest, acknowledged the problem in his remarks to summit leaders.
Representatives of India, Pakistan, Mongolia and Turkmenistan were present at the summit as observers.
After their formal summit, SCO leaders embarked on a trip to Chelyabinsk, Russia, to observe military maneuvers by armed forces of member states.
Countering terrorism and drugs tafficking was also discussed at the conference.
The Bishkek Declaration, signed today, highlights the need to fight terrorism and the negative regional influence of Afghanistan’s illegal drug trade. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, an invited SCO guest, acknowledged the problem in his remarks to summit.
Representatives of India, Pakistan, Mongolia and Turkmenistan were present at the summit/ as observers.
Originally called the Shanghai Five, the multinational group was formed in April 1996 by the heads of state of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.