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Russia, China Prepare For Live-Fire Drills --> Russian and Chinese officials at the opening of the exercises on 18 August 22 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russian and Chinese forces -- taking part in their first-ever joint military maneuvers -- are preparing for exercises involving the use of real ammunition on China's east coast.

Local media say the three-day drill starting on 23 August will will involve warplanes, naval destroyers, and an amphibious landing on the Shandong Peninsula in the Yellow Sea.

The war games are the result of warming ties between former Cold War enemies Moscow and Beijing, motivated by growing concern at U.S. dominance of world affairs. They were inaugurated on 18 August in the Russian port of Vladivostok.

Some 7,000 Chinese troops and 1,800 Russians are taking part in the exercise, dubbed "Peace Mission 2005."

Meanwhile, U.S. and South Korean forces kicked off their annual military exercises on 22 August.

About 10,000 U.S. troops are participating in the drills, dubbed Ulchi Focus Lens 2005. It's not clear how many South Korean forces are taking part.

This year's drills come at a sensitive time, a week ahead of the scheduled resumption of international talks aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear program and amid growing economic and political exchanges between the two Koreas.

North Korea routinely criticizes these military exercises as a rehearsal for an imminent invasion of the communist state.


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