Putin, Xi to hold talks on sidelines of SCO summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to sit down with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Thursday for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The talks will be on the sidelines of a two-day summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which begins in the central Asian country of Uzbekistan on Thursday.

Putin apparently wants to confirm economic and military ties with China, as Russia is struggling in Ukraine and Western nations have stepped up their sanctions.

Xi, on the other hand, is likely to use the talks to highlight his diplomatic achievements before next month's Communist Party National Congress, where he is expected to seek an unprecedented third term as party leader.

The SCO is a framework led by China and Russia for discussing a wide range of subjects, including security and economic cooperation.

The government of Uzbekistan says the leaders of 15 countries, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, are to attend the summit. Iran is an observer country, and is expected to acquire full membership.