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Shanghai Cooperation Organization Starts Summit In Bishkek

14 Jun 2019 Gandhara - RFE/RL

BISHKEK -- The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has begun a summit in Bishkek that brings together leaders of the Eurasian political, economic, and security grouping.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, and the leaders of other SCO member states -- Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan -- were meeting behind closed doors on June 14 at Kyrgyzstan's official presidential residence for what Bishkek has described as "narrow format" talks.

Those scheduled to attend later meetings on June 14 include the leaders of 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 the status of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers following the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement.

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

Ushakov also 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. It resumed its activities in 2017.

Putin also was scheduled to take part in a trilateral meeting with the Chinese president and Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga on the sidelines of the SCO summit on June 14.

On June 13, after Jeenbekov met with China's president, the Kyrgyz leader said that the internment of ethnic Kyrgyz and other mostly Muslim indigenous people in China's northwestern 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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