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Thursday, July 9, 2015, 09:23

SCO can play major role in Silk Road, Xi says

By Wu Jiao and Fu Jing in Ufa, Russia and Zhao Shengnan in Beijing

SCO can play major role in Silk Road, Xi says
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands prior to their ta lks during the summit in Ufa, Russia , July 8, 2015. (Alexander Nemenov / Pool photo via AP)

President Xi Jinping confirmed on Wednesday that he has invited Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit China in September and attend the country's activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

He also said the two countries should use the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a key platform to integrate China's Silk Road initiatives and Russia's aspirations under the Eurasian Economic Union framework.

Xi made the remarks in Ufa, capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan in Russia, during a meeting with Putin shortly after he arrived for two key annual summits involving groups in which China and Russia are major players.

The summits of the BRICS group of emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - and the SCO, which groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, are scheduled to last until Friday.

Later on Wednesday, Xi met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of an expected decision to admit India and Pakistan as member states of the SCO during the summit.

Putin, speaking during his second meeting with Xi in the past two months, said Russia is fully aware of the economic and diplomatic difficulties it is dealing with, and believes the problems can be resolved by working with China.

The two summits come amid strained ties between Russia and the West over Ukraine and just weeks after the European Union extended the sanctions it imposed on Russia a year ago.

Li Xing, director of the Center of Eurasia Studies at Beijing Normal University, said Moscow is optimistic about its dealings with countries in Asia, especially China, as its diplomatic standoff with the West and the sanctions have undermined Russia's growth.

Xi and Putin achieved a comprehensive consensus on "mechanisms, areas and projects" to implement connections between the Silk Road proposals and the Eurasian Economic Union, said Gui Congyou, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

All the SCO members will be the "first platform" to implement the projects under a mechanism to link China and Russia's connectivity proposals in Asia and Europe, Gui added.

China has been Russia's largest trading partner for five consecutive years, and Russia is China's ninth-largest trading partner. Two-way trade reached $95.3 billion in 2014, up 6.8 percent from the previous year.

Putin's planned appearance at China's events marking the 70th anniversary of its victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) and the world's anti-fascist war shows that Moscow supports and recognizes China's often-overlooked contribution, Li said.

China plans to stage a military parade in Beijing on September 3 to mark the anniversary. In May, Xi visited Moscow for talks with Putin and attended a vast military parade in Red Square to commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

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