Moscow: Putin-Xi meeting next week

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet next week in Uzbekistan

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet next week in Uzbekistan on the sidelines of a regional summit, Russian diplomacy said today, in the Chinese president's first trip abroad since early 2020.

"In less than 10 days, a new meeting of our leaders will take place at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit," Russian ambassador to China Andrei Denisov said, according to his statements carried by his embassy to AFP.

He added that the two presidents "have many things to discuss, both on bilateral issues and international problems".

The SCO summit will be held on September 15 and 16 in Samarkand, in southeastern Uzbekistan, which is rich in historical monuments and lies on the old Silk Road.

This organization, which was created as a counterweight to Western influence, brings together China, Russia, four Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) as well as India and Pakistan.

"This summit promises to be interesting as it will be the first real (ie in-person) summit since the pandemic," Denisov noted.

Asked about the Russian ambassador's statements, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said today during a regular press conference that he "has no information to give at this time."

– Silence from Beijing –

"The heads of state of China and Russia maintain close relations through various means," the ministry was limited to announcing in a statement transmitted to AFP.

Beijing generally confirms last-minute movements of its leaders.

Xi Jinping has not left China since a visit to Myanmar in January 2020, at the beginning of its pandemic COVID-19.

However, Presidents Xi and Putin had met in early February in Beijing on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the Chinese capital, twenty days before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Moscow and Beijing had then signed a joint statement calling for a "new era" in international relations.

Also in their text they called for an end to US hegemony and condemned the role of the Western military alliances of NATO and the Aukus (Australia, Britain and the US).

– “Impossible” –

After the Russian attack on Ukraine, China has shown its support for Russia, which is being hit on all sides by Western sanctions. Moscow, in search of support, markets and suppliers, says for its part that it will turn to Asia.

President Putin therefore today hailed the "growing role" of the Asia-Pacific region in world affairs vis-à-vis a declining West. He also deemed it "impossible" to isolate Russia.

This likely visit by Xi Jinping was announced a few weeks before the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a seminal political event held every five years in Beijing.

That conference begins on October 16 and is expected to allow the Chinese president to secure a third term as General Secretary of China's ruling CCP.

Source: RES-EAP