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Putin and Zemin preempt 5-nation summit

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin during a meeting in Dushanbe, Wednesday, July 5, 2000. Vladimir Putin and Jiang Zemin joined the leaders of three Central Asian countries in vowing to fight terrorism, drug-traficking and separatism. (AP Photo/ITAR-TASS)***COMMERCIAL INTERNET OUT***

July 6, 2000 


DUSHANBE (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin met behind closed doors at a Tajik government residence on Wednesday to discuss regional security ahead of a five-nation summit.

It was the two leaders' first meeting since Putin was elected president in March. The two are scheduled to meet again when Putin travels to China on July 17.

Putin and Jiang also talked over issues surrounding their 4,330-kilometer (2,600-mile) border and their opposition to the U.S. plan to deploy a limited national missile defense system, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov's press office said.

After the hour-long discussion, Putin and Jiang joined the presidents of three Central Asian nations for more talks on security and economic development. The group, which includes Tajikistan, Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan, is known as the Shanghai Five for the site of its first meeting in 1996.

The one-day summit was expected to produce an agreement settling border disputes among China, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as declarations of a common approach to the fight against drug-trafficking, separatism and terrorism. A separate statement appealing to Afghanistan to negotiate a peaceful end to 12 years of civil strife was also on the agenda.

All five nations are trying to rein in separatist or rebel groups, many of them drawing inspiration if not concrete aid from the Taliban, Afghanistan's militant Islamic rulers.

Russian troops help patrol the Tajik border with Afghanistan against frequent incursions by intruders, including smugglers ferrying drugs to Central Asia, Russia and western Europe.

In a meeting with Russian military commanders in Dushanbe, Putin said Moscow should strengthen its military presence in Tajikistan, the Interfax news agency reported.

"We know very well, and the leadership of Tajikistan agrees, that without the presence of the Russian military, the situation that has been achieved - including the guarantee of peaceful life for the people of Tajikistan - would not exist," he was quoted as saying.

On the eve of the summit, the five nations' foreign ministers expressed support for Moscow's military campaign in Chechnya and opposition to the U.S. missile defense proposals. They also said they backed China's push for reunification with Taiwan, which broke away amid a 1949 civil war and is considered by China a renegade province.

In one-on-one talks Tuesday, Jiang and Rakhmonov signed documents aimed at promoting cooperation and peace in the restive region.

The Chinese president condemned the violence in Afghanistan but cautioned against foreign interference beyond efforts already under way by the United Nations and other intermediaries.

"The Afghan problem should be solved by the Afghan people themselves in peaceful talks and in the absence of foreign interference," Jiang said.

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