China-Central Asia summit opens in Xi'an as G7 leaders gather in Hiroshima

Chinese President Xi Jinping is meeting with leaders of Central Asian nations for a two-day summit. China apparently wants to confirm ties with these countries at a time when leaders of the Group of Seven bloc are set to meet in Hiroshima, western Japan.

The China-Central Asia Summit brings together leaders from five Central Asian nations, including Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz.

The summit, the first of its kind, is taking place in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, starting Thursday.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry says that President Xi Jinping is expected to give a speech at the gathering. He will then exchange views with other leaders on cooperation in a broad range of fields.

The leaders are to wrap up the summit after jointly signing a political document.

Expanding participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at creating a massive economic zone, is said to be high on the agenda.

Xi announced the initiative when he visited Kazakhstan 10 years ago.

On Wednesday, he held talks with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. He also met leaders of Kyrgyz and Tajikistan separately on Thursday.

China appears determined to strengthen cooperation with Central Asian nations to elevate its presence in the region and keep the US in check.