Xi and Putin set out ambitions for Eurasian security club

ASTANA (Reuters) -Chinese President Xi Jinping urged members of a regional security club on Thursday to resist external meddling, while President Vladimir Putin was due to speak about creating a new Eurasian security system at the group’s annual meeting.

Putin and Xi have expanded the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a club founded in 2001 with Russia, China and Central Asian nations, to include India, Iran and Pakistan as a counterweight to the West.

The group also represents the new key customers for Russian commodities including oil and gas, as Western economic sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine have forced Moscow to pivot towards Asia.

“In the face of the real risks of small yards with high fences, we must safeguard the right to development,” Xi was quoted by Chinese state television CCTV as saying at the meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana.

The bloc must resolve “internal difference” with peace, seek common ground, and resolve co-operation difficulties, Xi added.

The main meeting took place behind closed doors, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, quoted by the RIA news agency, said on Thursday Putin would discuss with the group his idea of creating a new set of Eurasian collective security treaties.

Putin said last month a new regional security system was necessary, and should be open to all countries on the continent, including NATO members, but its aim should be to gradually remove all external military presence from Eurasia, a clear reference to the United States.

In a part of his speech published by the Kremlin, Putin also hailed the increasing use of national currencies – instead of the dollar – in trade between SCO countries and called for the creation of a new payment system within the group.

Western sanctions have left Moscow cut off from traditional payment systems such as SWIFT, while hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian foreign reserves remain frozen.

Xi and Putin believe the U.S-dominated post-Cold War era is crumbling. The Russian leader said on Thursday the SCO was playing an important role in creating a new, fairer world order.

The U.S. casts China as its biggest competitor and Russia as its biggest nation-state threat. U.S. President Joe Biden says this century will be defined by an existential contest between democracies and autocracies.

(Reporting by Pavel MikheyevWriting by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones)






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