Moscow, 24 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - The leaders of Russia and China hailed a treaty they signed in Moscow today with three central Asian neighbors as a major step promoting regional and world peace. Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan signed the treaty on troop limits along the former Soviet-Chinese border. The signing ceremony in Moscow follows talks yesterday between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
Yeltsin hailed the accord as a "breakthrough" for the Asia Pacific region and of "major significance" in destroying remnants of Cold War mentality.
Jiang told the other four presidents "as the first treaty in the Asia-Pacific region on reducing military forces, this agreement has major political and military significance.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin called the visit by the Chinese president an "important landmark" in furthering ties between the two countries. Chernomyrdin said the signing was the result of several years of works and the accord would have a significant impact on cooperation between the five states.
Chernomyrdin was speaking after holding talks with the Chinese leader, who arrived in Moscow on Tuesday on a five-day visit. ITAR-TASS says today's talks focused on bolstering economic ties.
The accord will result in a 15 percent reduction of Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajik troops in a 100-kilometer wide band along their 7,300 kilometer frontier with China.
The head of Kazakhstan's borderguards, Major General Toktasyn Buzubayev, says the treaty will "finally end confrontation between Beijing and former Soviet republics."
President Yeltsin returned today to the Black Sea resort of Sochi after cutting short a vacation to meet Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Moscow.
Interfax said Yeltsin would probably return to Moscow on May 4. He is expected to host Spain's King Juan Carlos in the first half of May.