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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Security Tops Talks by CIS Leaders

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DAGOMYS, Southern Russia — Leaders of former Soviet republics convened Thursday in a rustic restaurant in the mountains above a Black Sea resort to discuss regional security and economic cooperation at an informal summit.

Joint efforts to combat terrorism were expected to be a key subject at the summit, which began Wednesday — a day after a Chechen gunman hijacked a bus with 39 passengers in the nearby Stavropol region and held it for 13 hours.

At Thursday's meeting, President Vladimir Putin said the themes of "international terrorism and extremism" were closely linked to drug trafficking, which he called a "threat hanging over our countries," according to Interfax.

He urged joint efforts to combat drug trade and AIDS, which has been spreading fast in the former Soviet Union amid increasing use of intravenous drugs and the sharing of dirty needles among addicts.

Presidential delegations flew in by helicopter Wednesday to the Dagomys resort, near the city of Sochi.

On Thursday, they drove 8 kilometers from Dagomys into the mountains to confer in a wooden hut of the Tea House restaurant. The establishment, rumored to be a favorite of Putin's, is famed for its tea, honey and homemade jam.

Leaders of several former Soviet states grouped in the 12-member Commonwealth of Independent States share concerns about Islamic insurgencies. Russia calls rebels in Chechnya terrorists; leaders of the Central Asian republics use similar language to describe rebels seeking to establish an Islamic state in the region.

Putin also called for restoring economic ties among former Soviet states.

"Economic cooperation and an economic foundation is the only foundation for developing cooperation in all other spheres," he was quoted by news reports as saying.

Later, Putin held one-on-one meetings with the presidents of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Belarus.

The leaders of two CIS nations — Georgia and Turkmenistan — did not attend the summit. Turkmenistan is traditionally reluctant to join in CIS programs, while Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said he would skip the summit because of the recent slaying of a popular Georgian television journalist.