Bishkek, 25 August 1999 (RFE/RL) - The presidents of Russia, China and the Central Asian states of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan today opened a two-day summit in Bishkek expected to focus on regional security and economic issues. The summit agenda includes discussions on implementing previous border agreements and ways to combat the spread of extremist religious and ethnic movements in Central Asia. The group is known as the Shanghai Five because they first met in that Chinese city in 1996 to sign a security agreement. Before the official opening of the summit, Russian President Boris Yeltsin met with Chinese President Jiang Zemin to discuss a strategic partnership and economic cooperation.
After the bilateral talks, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the strategic partnership between the two nations was not designed as a military bloc to counter the West. But he said that it was important for the creation of "a future multipolar world." Upon arriving in Bishkek yesterday, Yeltsin talked of being prepared for a "fight against Westerners."