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Shanghai Cooperation Organization Starts Summit In Bishkek

14 Jun 2019 Radio Free Europe

BISHKEK -- The leaders of Russia, China, and former Soviet republics in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have gathered at the official presidential residence in Bishkek for the start of a summit of the Eurasian political, economic, and security grouping.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arrived in the Kyrgyz capital on June 13 ahead of the summit, was greeted by Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov upon his arrival at the Ala Archa State Residence on June 14 and immediately went into the hall where the summit is being held being closed doors.

Other participants in the meeting include the leaders of SCO members Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan, as well as SCO observer states Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov has said the summit would focus on expanding cooperation within the SCO on security, fighting terrorism and drug trafficking, economic development, industry, and humanitarian cooperation.

Ushakov said the leaders also would discuss the current situation in Afghanistan and in the Middle East.

He said Putin planned to explain Russia's approach toward reaching a peace settlement to the conflict in Syria.

He said Putin also planned to raise the issues of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.

Finally, Ushakov said Putin would talk with other SCO leaders about the "activities in the framework of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group."

The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group was established in 2005 but its activities were suspended in 2009.

The group resumed its activities in 2017.

Ahead of the summit, Putin on June 13 held separate talks in Bishkek with Jeenbekov and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It was the first meeting between Putin and Modi since the Indian prime minister secured a second term following his party’s May victory in parliamentary elections.

The Kremlin has said Putin also was scheduled to take part in a trilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga on the sidelines of the SCO summit on June 14.

On June 13, Jeenbekov discussed bilateral ties and regional security issues with Xi.

Jeenbekov said after the talks that Bishkek and Beijing have "a common standpoint on the fight against three evils: terrorism, extremism, and separatism."

Jeenbekov also said that the internment of ethnic Kyrgyz and other mostly Muslim indigenous people in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang was an "internal matter” for China.

After the summit in Bishkek concludes, Putin, Xi, Central Asian leaders, and senior officials from dozens of other countries will convene on June 15 in neighboring Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, for the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

With reporting by MIR and TASS

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