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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin, Jiang Meet With Leaders of Shanghai 5

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Wednesday joined the leaders of three Central Asian countries in vowing to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and separatism.

The joint statement with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan at the one-day summit in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, reflected shared concerns about Islamic and other insurgencies.

The statement also demonstrated the countries' common defensiveness about human rights issues, saying the signatories opposed "intervention into the internal affairs of other states, including under the pretext of 'humanitarian intervention' and 'human rights protection.'"

The summit highlighted China's increasing involvement in the Central Asian region. And it confirmed that Russia was succeeding in its mission to re-establish its influence over the region's former Soviet republics after a decade of declining clout.

Putin said Russia should establish a permanent military base in Tajikistan, where troops are already stationed.

"We know for certain, and Tajikistan agrees, that without the presence of Russian troops, we will lose what we have succeeded in achieving, including the securing of peace for the population of Tajikistan," Putin was quoted as saying by Interfax during a separate meeting with Russian military officials.

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. The Tajik government fought a five-year civil war with Islamic rebels, ending with a 1997 peace deal.

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.

Putin and Jiang, in their first meeting since Putin was elected president March 26, separately discussed plans for Putin's July 18-19 visit to China.

They also discussed their opposition to the U.S. plan to deploy a national missile defense sytem and stated support for Korea's peaceful reunification, said Alexei Gromov, Putin's spokesman.

After the hour-long discussion, Putin and Jiang joined the leaders of the three Central Asian nations for more talks on various security and economic issues.

The group, known as the Shanghai Five for the site of its first meeting in 1996, decided to set up a regional anti-terrorist center in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, for regular meetings of their secret services and police officials and to organize joint anti-terrorist exercises.

All five leaders expressed support for Moscow's military campaign in Chechnya and opposition to the U.S. missile defense proposal. U.S. President Bill Clinton has said he will decide later this year whether to go ahead with the $60 billion National Missile Defense system. The Pentagon plans a crucial test of the system over the Pacific Ocean on Friday.

The Shanghai Five leaders also said they backed China's push for reunification with Taiwan, which broke away during a 1949 civil war and is considered by China a renegade province.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who attended the meeting as an observer, said he considered "the accord between Russia and China in this region to be the main condition for the states that participate in the Shanghai forum to consolidate their cooperation."