Moscow: Russia and China will hold joint military exercises next month, a top Russian military official said Monday, as the giant neighbours work towards tighter cooperation.

“The head of the Russian and Chinese military delegations agreed that 1,300 soliders from each side would participate,” said the deputy army chief, Lieutenant General Sergei Antonov, adding that 20 Russian war planes would take part.

The massive five-day exercises, dubbed Peace Mission 2009, are to focus on anti-terrorism and will take place on both countries’ territories July 22-26, Antonov told the ITAR-TASS state news agency.

The two countries are in their third round of talks to hammer out the details of the joint manoeuvres, counting 2,600 men, he said.

Russia and China made a show of their strengthening ties last month when Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Moscow for a major bilateral summit.

The friendly diplomacy is a marked change from the later decades of the Cold War era, when the Soviet Union and China clashed for supremacy in the Communist world.

In recent years, the countries have taken great strides to step up trade and put old rivalries behind them, ending a decades-long dispute over their 4,300-kilometre (2,700-mile) border just last year.

The two held joint exercises in 2005 and 2007 under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security group consisting of China, Russia and four Central Asian states.

Russia has also been the main supplier of arms to China since the two countries normalised their relations in 1989 — the same year that Washington imposed an arms ban on Beijing.