BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and leaders from India and Central Asian countries headed to Uzbekistan on Thursday for a summit of a security group set up by Beijing and Moscow as a counterweight to US influence.
The meeting of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization comes at a time when Putin is isolated abroad following his invasion of Ukraine. Beijing’s relations with Washington, Europe, Japan and India have been strained by differences over technology, security and territory.
The event in the ancient Sultanate of Samarkand is part of Xi’s first overseas trip Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic two and a half years ago, which underscores Beijing’s desire to assert itself as a regional power.
The official Xinhua news agency reported that Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev received Xi at Samarkand airport. The musicians played a bang on the karnaise, a traditional wind instrument resembling a long trumpet.
Putin and Xi are set to meet privately to discuss Ukraine, according to the Russian president’s foreign affairs adviser.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was due to arrive Thursday, according to his cabinet, although there was no indication whether he might meet separately with Xi or Putin.
Sino-Indian relations have been strained by clashes between soldiers of the two sides in a border dispute in a remote area of the Himalayas.
Other SCO governments include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Among the observers, Iran and Afghanistan.
The Chinese leader is promoting the “Global Security Initiative” announced in April following the formation of the Quartet by Washington, Japan, Australia and India in response to Beijing’s more assertive foreign policy. Xi did not provide many details, but US officials complain that this reflects Russian arguments in support of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
The region is part of China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative to expand trade by building ports, railways and other infrastructure across an arc of dozens of countries from the South Pacific through Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
China’s economic invasions In Central Asia, he fueled unease in Russia, which regards the region as its sphere of influence. Kazakhstan and its neighbors are trying to attract Chinese investment without angering Moscow.
On Wednesday, Xi paid a one-day visit to Kazakhstan on his way to Uzbekistan.
Pope Francis was in Kazakhstan at the same time as Xibut they did not meet.
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