Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia meet in Uzbekistan on Thursday for a regional summit, amid heightened tensions over the war in Ukraine.
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MM Leaders of India, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and others have joined Xi and Putin in Samarkand, a key stop on the ancient Silk Road, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit.
While the main meeting of the summit will take place on Friday, it will be the most scrutinized Thursday’s bilateral meeting between the Chinese and Russian presidents, whose countries are at the center of international diplomatic crises.
Mr. Trump is trying to accelerate a front to Asia in the face of Western sanctions against Moscow for its aggression in Ukraine.
Mr. Xi could further cement his status as a top leader as he aims for a third new mandate ahead of the Chinese Communist Party congress in October.
Their meeting was thrown against the United States, which has been leading economic sanctions against Moscow and military support for Kyiv.
“Alternative” to the West
“The Shanghai Cooperation Organization offers a real alternative to Western-oriented structures,” Kremlin diplomatic adviser Yuri Uchakov told reporters on Tuesday.
It is “the world’s largest organization, covering half the planet’s population” and working towards an “international order”, he said.
Ahead of the leaders’ arrival in Samarkand, a former major crossroads of trade routes between China and Europe, movement in the city was placed under high security, restricted and the airport closed to commercial flights.
AFP journalists noted that the streets of the city, known for its mosques and tombs covered in blue mosaics, were almost deserted on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are holidays for schools.
The SCO, whose members are China, Russia, India, Pakistan and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, was created in 2001 as an instrument for political, economic and security cooperation in competition with Western organizations.
It is neither a military alliance like NATO nor a political integration organization like the European Union, but its members work together to address common security challenges and promote trade.
The conflict in Ukraine, the situation in Afghanistan or the unrest that has shaken many Central Asian countries in recent months should be among the main topics discussed.
The main session of the summit this week will take place on Friday, but the main focus will be on several bilateral meetings scheduled on the sidelines.
So, apart from Xi Jinping, Mr. Putin will meet Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi and Pakistani Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif, who want to join the SCO, on Thursday, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip on Friday. Erdogan.
Ahead of the summit, Xi Jinping traveled to Kazakhstan on Wednesday, where he met with the president.
The last meeting between MM. Putin and Xi were present last February when the Russian president visited the Winter Olympics in Beijing, days before Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine began.
Without openly supporting Russian military intervention, Beijing has repeatedly expressed its support for an isolated Moscow in the West in recent months.
Moscow, for its part, called US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August a “provocation”.
Last month, China participated in joint military maneuvers in Russia, agreeing to settle its gas contracts with Moscow in rubles and yuan. And no more in western currencies.