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Russia: CIS Summit To Create Free-Trade Zone

Moscow, 21 June 2000 (RFE/RL) - The leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States are expected to discuss establishing a free-trade zone and an anti-terrorism program at a summit in Moscow being attended today by the leaders of the 12 CIS states. Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the meeting by drawing attention to the fact that tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the start of the "Great Patriotic War" (World War II), a date that Putin says, "concerns us all."

Today's summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS, will be the first since Russia's President Vladimir Putin was unanimously voted to head the alliance in January.

CIS prime ministers met yesterday ahead of the summit to develop an anti-terrorism program. Few details of the program were made available, but Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said he hopes CIS members will adopt the proposal at today's summit.

In a separate meeting yesterday, CIS foreign ministers agreed to withdraw a CIS peacekeeping force from Tajikistan that had been deployed during a war that ended in 1997. The ministers also agreed to extend the mandate of peacekeepers in Georgia's breakaway territory of Abkhazia.