Russian defense minister leaves for three-day visit to China
MOSCOW (AFP) Apr 20, 2004
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov left Moscow Tuesday for a three-day visit to China during which he will meet with his Chinese counterpart Cao Gangchuan, ITAR-TASS reported.

Ivanov will discuss "Russo-Sino relations in the military and the military-technical sphere, including in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)," the news agency said, quoting a defense ministry statement.

"The two sides will also exchange opinions on the most important problems of international relations, including those that touch on security in Asia and the Pacific," it said.

The SCO is a Central Asian anti-terrorism and trade grouping which comprises China and Russia plus former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

It was formally set up in 2001 and grew out of efforts in the 1990s to strengthen confidence-building measures in the border regions and fight regional terrorism, religious extremism and separatism.