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China’s episode visits Kazakhstan before summit with Putin

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday embarked on his first foreign trip since the outbreak of the pandemic with a stop in Kazakhstan ahead of a summit with Russia Vladimir Putin and other leaders of the country. a Central Asian security group.

Xi’s trip underscores Beijing’s importance to relations with Russia and Central Asia as the ruling Communist Party advances its strategic ambitions amid tensions with Washington, Japan and India. .

Mr. Xi, wearing a blue suit and mask, was met by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on the airport runway and an honor guard, all wearing masks.

Tokayev’s government said the two leaders would discuss energy markets and global economic uncertainty. Kazakhstan, a sparsely populated country of 19.4 million people and sprawling grasslands, is a major oil and gas producer. China is a top customer.

On Thursday, Mr. Xi will fly to Samarkand in neighboring Uzbekistan to attend the summit of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization, led by China and Russia.

Beijing and Moscow see the SCO as a counterweight to US alliances in East Asia.

Other SCO governments include India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Observers include Iran and Afghanistan.

The Chinese leader is pushing for a “Global Security Initiative” announced in April after Washington, Japan, Australia and India formed the Quartet in response to a more assertive foreign policy. of Beijing. Mr. Xi gave some details, but US officials complained it echoed Russian arguments in favor of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

According to the Russian President’s foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, Xi and Putin plan to hold a face-to-face meeting and discuss Ukraine.

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