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Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the host of the CSTO and Eurasian Economic Community summits on June 23 (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
June 22, 2006 -- Leaders of several former Soviet republics are gathering in Minsk for meetings of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Community, to be held on June 23.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says the CSTO meeting will discuss the security grouping's priorities and how to increase its effectiveness. The formation of joint rapid reaction forces is one possibility that will be discussed.
The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. Uzbek President Islam Karimov is attending as a guest observer.
The same countries belong to the Eurasian Economic Community, with the exception of Armenia. Uzbekistan decided in early 2006 to join the group and its accession will be formalized at the meeting.
Leaders of the Eurasian Economic Community will also debate the possibility of a merger with the Central Asian Cooperation Organization, which groups Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia, and Uzbekistan.