Xi, Putin to discuss Ukraine war at meeting

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will discuss the war in Ukraine and other “international and regional topics” at their meeting later this week, the Kremlin said.

The two will meet in Uzbekistan at a summit that will show an “alternative” to the Western world, the Kremlin said.

Mr Xi is making his first trip overseas since the start of the pandemic.

He is seeking a historic third term while Mr Putin’s relations with the West are at rock bottom over Ukraine.

Mr Xi is beginning his three-day trip in Kazakhstan, where he landed in the capital, Nursultan, for the first leg of his trip on Wednesday.

He will then meet Mr Putin on Thursday at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, which will run from September 15-16.

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

He 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.

The SCO meeting comes amid fresh clashes on the border between two of its members, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Reports say at least one border guard was killed and two injured – their nationalities are not known.

Sporadic clashes between the two countries, over a water dispute and other issues, broke out last year.

Mr 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, Beijing continues to shut down entire cities and provinces every time there is a rise in cases.

Mr 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. -BBC

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