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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

5 Countries to Sign Treaty in Shanghai

SHANGHAI, China -- The presidents of three central Asian countries arrived in Shanghai on Thursday to take part in a historic meeting with the leaders of China and Russia aimed at stabilizing their volatile region.

On Friday, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akayev and Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov will sign a cooperation treaty with China's President Jiang Zemin and President Boris Yeltsin.

The treaty will stipulate that military forces of the five countries do not attack each other, do not conduct exercises aimed at each other, inform each other of the scope of the exercises and set up friendly ties.

Yeltsin is due to arrive in Shanghai on Friday morning. The signing ceremony will take place in the afternoon.

Shanghai newspapers hailed the meeting as the largest gathering of international leaders held in the city and said it confirmed Shanghai's importance.

Vast numbers of lights have been strung along the city's streets, and tall buildings have been ordered to keep all their lights on during the visit of the five presidents.

The Liberation Daily said 700,000 potted plants had been placed along the road from the airport to the hotel where the visiting presidents are staying.

It was not clear why the treaty-signing ceremony was being held in Shanghai rather than in Beijing. One Chinese analyst said the initial idea for the meeting came up during border discussions between the Chinese and Russians.

Border disputes between the various parties, particularly China and Russia, are long-standing, but basic agreement on demarcation of the Sino-Russian border was finally agreed upon in 1991.

Yeltsin has said the demarcation provided by the 1991 treaty would go ahead as planned, but the governor of Russia's Primorsky region in the Far East has said several times that Moscow should not cede land to China.

A European diplomat said there was an outstanding border issue between China and Tajikistan, but he doubted the Chinese would push the issue in the near future given the volatile nature of Tajikistan politics.