Russia, China, India agree on cooperation against terrorism

The Russian, Chinese and Indian foreign ministers agreed Thursday to intensify joint work against terrorism and other threats and underlined their common approach to international affairs - often seen as an attempt to counterbalance what all three countries see as U.S. domination of world affairs.

The trio met in Russia's Pacific port of Vladivostok, near the Chinese border, a venue underlining Russia's place in Asia.

"We are cultivating practical cooperation between the three states in the struggle against new threats and challenges, first of all, international terrorism, drug-trafficking and other forms of organized crime," Lavrov told a news conference following his talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Indian External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh.

The ministers also discussed ways to strengthen political and economic cooperation. Lavrov said priority areas include transport, energy, agriculture and high technology, and that the three ministers had discussed intensified cooperation on preventing and responding to natural disasters.

Energy-starved China and India look at Russia's northern oil reserves as a possible source to meet their burgeoning energy requirements. For Russia, the two represent huge potential markets.

Lavrov said it was the first time foreign ministers of the three countries had met independently, not in the framework of an international forum, though they have held three prior informal meetings.

Russia first proposed the three-way consultations between the Asian powers in 2002, and past meetings have focussed on issues such as global terrorism, drug trafficking and energy security.

However, international developments following the Sept. 11 attacks and the American-led war in Iraq have deepened misgivings about U.S. unilateralism in all three capitals and encouraged a common approach to international affairs.

"We think that the most effective way to achieve security in the modern world is the democratization of international relations and observation of the principles of multilateralism in solving international problems and strengthening the role of the United Nations," Lavrov said.

Lavrov and Li used the occasion of the meeting to exchange documents on the recently ratified Chinese-Russian border agreement.

"Our countries are establishing strategic cooperation but it is not aimed against any other country," Li said through a translator. "We are striving toward mutually beneficial cooperation to the advantage of both of us."

YEVGENY KULKOV, Associated Press Writer

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