Xi, Putin to meet in Samarkand

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Samarkand, Sept. 15 (BNA): Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin meet on Thursday in an ancient Uzbek Silk Road city to discuss the Ukraine war, tensions over Taiwan and the deepening partnership between the two countries.

 

On his first trip outside China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi arrived in Central Asia on Wednesday. 

 

Xi and Putin are due to meet in Samarkand on Thursday afternoon, according to a schedule distributed by the Russian delegation to media, Reuters reports.

 

"The presidents will discuss both the bilateral agenda and the main regional and international topics," Putin's foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday.

 

Ushakov said the meeting would hold "special significance" given the geopolitical situation.

 

The last time Xi and Putin met in person, they declared a "no limits" partnership. 

 

The deepening Xi-Putin partnership is considered one of the most significant developments in geopolitics after China's own spectacular rise over the past 40 years.

 

Xi and Putin say their relations have never been better.

 

The visit "shows that China is willing to not only continue 'business as usual' with Russia but even show explicit support and accelerate the formation of a stronger China-Russia alignment," said Alexander Korolev, senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

 

While Xi has met Putin in person 38 times since becoming China's president in 2013, he has yet to meet Joe Biden in person since the latter became U.S. President in 2021.

 

ENERGY

 

Putin says Russia is turning towards Asia after centuries of looking to the West as the crucible of economic growth, technology and war.

 

As Europe seeks to turn away from Russian oil and gas, Putin will seek to boost energy exports to China and Asia, possibly with a pipeline through Mongolia.

 

Putin, Xi and Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh are due to hold a three-way meeting in Samarkand.

 

Russia's state energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has for years been studying the possibility for a major new gas pipeline - the Power of Siberia 2 - to travel through Mongolia taking Russian gas to China.

 

It will carry 50 billion cubic metres of gas per year, around a third of what Russia usually sells Europe – or equivalent to the Nord Stream 1 annual volumes.

 

Putin will also meet Iranian, Kyrgyz, Pakistani, Turkmen and Uzbek leaders.

 

On Friday, Putin is set to meet the leaders of Azerbaijan, India and Turkey, the Kremlin said.