China and Russia are set to begin talks on strengthening cooperation in the war against terror. The two countries also are likely to discuss U.S. plans for a missile defense system.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue says that vice-ministers from China and Russia will hold two days of talks in Beijing on how to step up their anti-terrorism efforts.

Ms. Zhang told reporters in Beijing Tuesday that the talks, to take place Wednesday and Thursday, will be the first meeting of a new Sino-Russian anti-terrorism group.

Some security analysts say the meeting gives China an opportunity to enhance its relationship with Russia, in light of rapidly changing alliances after the September 11 attacks on the United States. China and Russia in recent years often joined forces to oppose U.S. policies seen as detrimental to their interests.

But Zhu Feng, a security expert from Beijing University's School of International Studies, says that Russia's closer friendship with the United States since September 11 does not threaten China's relationship with Russia.

Mr. Zhu says China no longer sees international diplomacy as a zero-sum game. Rather, he says that closer ties between the United States and Russia help create a more stable security environment for China as well. China faces a sometimes violent separatist movement from Islamic extremists in its western region of Xinjiang.

Mr. Zhu also says that U.S. plans for a missile defense system are likely to be a major topic of discussion during the talks. In the past, China and Russia were united in opposing the system, which both had seen as a violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

Russia recently indicated that it will be more flexible about the treaty. Mr. Zhu says China is likely to be understanding of Russia's changed attitude, but that both countries will need to work out their new differences.