BEIJING, Oct 29 (Reuters) Fighting militancy and boosting energy cooperation between China, Russia and Central Asia will top the agenda at a summit in Uzbekistan later this week, a senior Chinese official said today.
Iran's nuclear programme will also likely be discussed when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attends a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and later visits Russia, said Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Li Hui.
Beijing is the main backer of the organisation, which says it is dedicated to fighting terrorism and Islamic militancy in Central Asia, including home-grown groups in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang.
The body groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Li said that the ''three forces'' -- which China defines as ''terrorism, separatism and extremism'' -- remained a serious problem.
''Everyone knows that in the Euro-Asia region, the activities of the three forces remain very rampant,'' Li told a news conference, pointing to Uzbekistan's crushing of a revolt in the town of Andizhan in 2005.
''The activities of the three forces, including those of the East Turkestan organisation, have not stopped and have damaged regional peace and stability,'' he said, referring to a group that has been agitating for independent Xinjiang.
China keeps a tight grip on oil-rich Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia and where ethnic Uighurs have demanded greater autonomy and greater religious freedoms.
In January, the government said it killed 18 terrorists in a gunbattle in the Pamirs plateau in southern Xinjiang, and captured 17 others, all described as members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. Xinjiang's governor said in March that the group had links with al Qaeda.
''Our aim is as one -- to uphold the fight against terrorism and smash the East Turkestan terrorist organisation, to maintain peace and security, so as to push regional development,'' Li said.
Ensuring cooperation between countries with large energy resources such as Russia and Uzbekistan, and important consumers such as China, would also benefit people by boosting the economy, the minister added.
''Developing energy cooperation creates good conditions for promoting regional peace and stability,'' Li said, without giving details on any new deals to be signed.
Li added that Iran's controversial nuclear programme, which the United States suspects might be used to make weapons, would probably feature in talks between Wen and his Russian counterpart.
''I believe that both sides will exchange views about important bilateral, international and regional issues,'' Li added, without elaborating.
China and Russia both oppose sanctions being placed on Iran.
Wen will also visit Turkmenistan and Belarus.
REUTERS SKB RK1545