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SCO Defense Ministers Meet In Bishkek


Defense ministers and security officials of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are gathered in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, to discuss regional security issues.

Initial reports from the June 26 talks said the ministers were focusing on strengthening military cooperation as international combat forces leave Afghanistan by the end of next year.

Kyrgyz Defense Minister Taalaybek Omuraliev said the ministers discussed ways to counter "contemporary concerns and threats," which Russian Border Guard Service chief Vladimir Kulishov said included terrorism, separatism, and extremism.

He also mentioned the battle against illegal narcotics trade and transborder criminal groups.

The officials also reviewed a 2014-15 cooperation plan due to be published in a joint communique at the end of their meeting.

The grouping brings together representatives of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

On the eve of the meeting, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held face-to-face talks with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev.

According to ITAR-TASS, Shoigu reassured the Kyrgyz leader of "Russian support" for Kyrgyzstan's defense forces.

Russia has close military ties with Kyrgyzstan, leasing a base in the Central Asian country.

The United States also was leasing a base in Kyrgyzstan to ship troops and supplies into Afghanistan.

But on June 20, Kyrgyzstan lawmakers voted to give the United States until July 2014 to leave the Manas airbase.

Some 1,000 U.S. servicemen are housed at the base outside of Bishkek.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax
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