Six CSTO presidents begin informal summit in Kazakhstan’s Astana

ASTANA, August 12 (Itar-Tass) —— The presidents of six out of seven member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have gathered in Kazakhstan’s Astana for an unofficial summit meeting.

The six leaders include Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia, Emomali Rakhmon of Tajikistan, and Roza Otunbayeva of Kyrgyzstan. President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov is not taking part in the Astana summit.

The summit’s host, Nursultan Nazarbayev, welcomed his CSTO counterparts at the lobby of the Rixos Hotel, one of the best ones in the city. Since this is an unofficial meeting, the CSTO leaders were wearing no ties. Only the Russian leader was dressed in an official manner, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the Kazakh president. The Russian president smiled and took his tie off just before TV cameras and put it in his jacket’s pocket.

Beginning the meeting, the Kazakh president outlines a range of issues to be discussed, such as the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, natural and anthropogenic catastrophes in the region. “Threats of terrorism, and international arms and drug trafficking are augmenting, questions arise in the area of information security,” he said.

Then, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who is currently chairing the organization, took the floor. Such informal CSTO summits “in an off-season period have become a good tradition,” he noted. He wished his counterparts “fruitful work” and said he hoped the summit will be held “in a friendly atmosphere.”

Then, the meeting will be held behind closed door.

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