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Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Sign Treaty

Shanghai, China, April 26 (RFE/RL) - Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan signed today in Shanghai an unprecedent five-nation border agreement on demilitarizing the nearly 8,000 kilometers-long former Sino-Soviet border.

The regional security treaty was signed by the presidents of Russia (Boris Yeltsin), China (Jiang Zemin), Kazakhstan (Nursultan Nazarbayev), Kyrgyzstan (Askar Akayev) and Tajikistan (Emomili Rakhmonov) in a televised ceremony at the Shanghai Exhibition Center.

Asia's first such accord will bind the five nations to build military confidence along their common border, the scene of tension and armed clashes in the past.

The treaty also calls for a withdrawal of military forces along a band on each side of the frontier, which is to be partroled only by border guards. It also bans the countries from conducting military exercises aimed against each other and requires them to inform each other on the scope of exercises near the border.

After the ceremony, Russian President Boris Yeltsin called the signature an "epic event, achieved after more than five years of serious work." Yeltsin also said that the treaty provides for "concrete measures and responsibilities" accepted by all the signing countries. In their speeches, the other leaders agreed with Yeltsin on the "historic importance of the document."