Putin To Meet Xi Jinping In Uzbekistan Next Week

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, will meet next week during a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan.

Russian state media quoted officials as saying the summit will take place during the SCO meeting in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on September 15-16.

"We are actively preparing for it,” Russian Ambassador to China Andrei Denisov told reporters, according to the TASS news agency.

The two leaders last met in February, just before Moscow launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

China has tried to walk a line between criticizing Russia for the war and avoiding breaking international sanctions imposed on Moscow for its aggression.

Beijing has blamed the United States and NATO for provoking Moscow and has condemned the punishing sanctions imposed on Russia. In turn, the Kremlin has backed China amid rising tensions with Washington that were exacerbated by a recent visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In addition, Chinese forces have been participating this month in the Vostok-2022 military exercises in Russia.

One day before landing in Uzbekistan, Xi will pay an official visit to Kazakhstan in his first trip abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov said earlier this week that the Chinese leader will hold talks with his Kazakh counterpart Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev in Nur-Sultan on September 14.

The SCO summit in Uzbekistan will include China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan.

Iran has the status of an acceding member -- it's expected to officially join the group in April 2023 -- while Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia are observer states.

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