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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Xi, Putin to discuss Ukraine at meeting: Kremlin

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Moscow: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will discuss the war in Ukraine and other “international and regional topics” at their meeting during the SCO summit later this week, the Kremlin says.

Putin will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides other leaders including those of Pakistan, Turkey and Iran – but his meeting with China’s leader “is of particular importance,” said Kremlin foreign policy spokesman Yuri Ushakov.

The two will meet in Uzbekistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit that will show an “alternative” to the Western world, the Kremlin said.

Xi is making his first trip overseas since the beginning of the pandemic. He is seeking a historic third term while Putin’s relations with the West are at rock bottom over Ukraine, the BBC report said.

Xi is beginning his three-day trip in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. He will then meet Putin on Thursday at the summit in Samarkand, which will run from September 15 to 16.

Kremlin said the summit was taking place “against the background of large-scale political changes”.

China and Russia have long sought to position the SCO, founded in 2001 with four ex-Soviet Central Asian nations, as an alternative to Western multilateral groups.

Xi’s visit comes amid a fresh set of lockdowns in China, where his zero Covid policy is still in place. While the rest of the world has opened up, learning to live with with the virus.

Xi last left China in January 2020 to visit Myanmar – just days before the first lockdown came into effect in Wuhan. He has remained in China since then, leaving the mainland only once in July this year to visit Hong Kong.

Putin is also making a rare foray abroad. His meeting with Turkish and Iranian leaders in Tehran in July was only his second foreign trip since Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

This is the two leaders’ second meeting this year – they last met at Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.

Following the February meeting, the two leaders issued a joint statement saying the friendship between their countries had “no limits”.

Russia invaded Ukraine days later – an action China has neither condemned nor voiced support for. Beijing, in fact, has said both sides are to blame.

China is not part of the international sanctions against Russia and trade between the two countries has continued to grow. Indian and Chinese imports of Russian oil have soared since the Ukraine invasion.

China too has seen its relations with the West and especially the US sour in recent months following tensions over self-ruled Taiwan. China claims the island as part of its territory.

Last month, Beijing staged a five-day military blockade around the island in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

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