China PLA squad heads to Belarus for joint drills

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June 15h, 2015 –
– The BRICS Post 

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) shakes hands with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after signing deals worth billion of dollars in Minsk, capital of Belarus, May 10, 2015 [Xinhua]

A Chinese airborne special forces squad on Monday left for Belarus for a joint anti-terrorism drill training, a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force spokesman said.

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Shen Jinke said this was the third such drill between the air forces of China and Belarus, an ex-Soviet Republic, after a 10-day exercise in July 2011, followed by a 12-day drill the year after.

The drills came a month after Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Belarus for a three-day trip to sign deals worth billions of dollars as Beijing looks to build greater inroads into Europe’s economy. Chinese officials estimated the total value of the Belarus deals at $15.7 billion.

Meanwhile, China’s PLA spokesperson Shen said on Monday that the drills with Belarus would “consolidate the traditional friendship between the two countries, deepen military exchanges and cooperation, and enrich the comprehensive strategic partnership.”

He said the PLA Air Force will “continue to expand cooperation with its foreign peers in order to address challenges and crises.”

Belarus is a dialogue partner of the SCO, a China-Russia-led security bloc.

Chinese President Xi also said in May that Belarus could become a key hub for China’s much-vaunted Silk Road vision — a project to bridge Europe and Asia through a series of transportation and energy links.

Belarus’s largely state-run economy is still closely integrated with that of Russia which supplies most of its energy needs. The ex-Soviet Republic also harbours close security ties with Russia.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko recently hosted international talks aimed at securing a peace deal in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Vatican said earlier this year in March that Pope Francis is ready to help improve frayed ties between Belarus and the European Union.

The west accuses Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of allowing electoral and human rights abuses in the country.

Belarus will hold presidential elections on October 11.

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