Dushanbe summit to take aim at separatism - China
BEIJING, June 30 (Reuters) - Ethnic separatism will top the agenda at a summit next week of the so-called Shanghai Five, China, Russia, and three Central Asian states, a Chinese official said on Friday.
``All Shanghai Five members recognise that the three forces of ethnic separatism, international terrorism and religious extremism are rampant in the region and constitute a serious threat to stability and peace,'' said the official.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin and leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will use the July 5 summit in the Tajik capital Dushanbe to deepen ties between security and police agencies and work to forge extradition treaties, he said.
The fifth summit since 1996 of leaders of China and four ex-Soviet states bordering would also focus on turmoil in Afghanistan and welcome Uzbekistan as an observer, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Originally set up to resolve border issues, the Shanghai Five's ties have deepened to include police and defence exchanges and the focus has shifted to security in the volatile region.
Central Asian states are alarmed at the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, underscored last year by a series of bomb blasts in Uzbekistan and the invasion of Kyrgyzstan by armed guerrillas.
China is particularly concerned about festering separatism among the Moslem Uighur community in its western Xinjiang province, where activists have struggled for decades to establish an independent East Turkestan.
Xinjiang has been rocked by anti-Chinese riots, bombings and assassinations since 1996. The worst rioting left nine dead and more than 200 injured in Yining city in February 1997.
Earlier this month, China executed five members of a Xinjiang independence organisation, part of a larger group convicted of crimes including splitting the country, illegal arms dealing, murder and robbery, the official Xinjiang Daily reported.
More than half a million Turkish-speaking Uighurs live in ex-Soviet Central Asia, refugees from what they say is repressive treatment by the Chinese authorities.
Asked about reports Xinjiang separatists were being aided by Afghanistan's Taleban, the official said the Islamic fundamentalist movement told Beijing it had no links with the Uighurs and would assist China if proof emerged of any link.
Two Uighurs with Chinese citizenship were captured by Russian troops last year in Chechnya, the official said. They were found to be cooks, not terrorists, he added.
The official said Jiang would also meet new Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines in Dushanbe and make state visits to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan straddling the summit. Putin is set to visit China on July 18-19.
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