Putin, Xi meet for first time since invasion of Ukraine

Ns News Online Desk:Ns News Online Desk: Chinese President Xi Jinping met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Uzbekistan, their first meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began and triggered the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

Xi, on his first trip outside China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, met Putin in the ancient Uzbek Silk Road city of Samarkand where they will attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The two leaders discussed the war in Ukraine, tensions over Taiwan and the deepening partnership between rising superpower China and natural resources titan Russia.

Putin and Xi gathered with other Asian leaders in Samarkand for the summit, which has been touted as a challenge to Western global influence.

The two presidents are being joined by the leaders of India, Iran, Pakistan, Türkiye and several other countries for the meeting in the Uzbek city set for Thursday and Friday.

The main summit day will be Friday, but the meeting between the Chinese and Russian leaders later Thursday is set to be closely watched, with talks about the conflict in Ukraine expected.

Earlier on Thursday, the two first held separate meetings with leaders of ex-Soviet Central Asian nations. Putin sat down with the presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan while Xi met Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Putin then saw Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, announcing that ties were “developing positively” between Moscow and Tehran, and giving his full backing to Iran’s application to become a member of the SCO.

Raisi told Putin that U.S.-backed sanctions on both countries would only make their relationship “stronger.”

“The Americans think whichever country they impose sanctions on, it will be stopped, their perception is a wrong one,” Raisi said.

For Putin, the summit is a chance to show that Russia is not isolated internationally, at a time when Moscow’s forces are facing major battlefield setbacks in Ukraine.

Residents told Agence France-Presse (AFP) of their joy at hosting the meeting, pointing to Samarkand’s long history as an international crossroads.

“We are proud that so many leaders of various countries are gathering in our city. Samarkand from ancient times was a legendary city,” said 26-year-old Shakhboz Kombarov.

The SCO, made up of China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, was set up in 2001 as a political, economic and security organization to rival Western institutions.

Besides Xi, Putin was also set Thursday to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, then on Friday to hold talks with Indian premier Narendra Modi and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

It was not clear who else Xi might meet, although talks with Modi would be their first since 2019. China-India relations turned frosty over deadly fighting in 2020 on their disputed Himalayan border.

Formerly Cold War allies with a tempestuous relationship, China and Russia have drawn closer in recent years as part of what they call a “no-limits” relationship acting as a counterweight to the global dominance of the United States.


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