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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Xi Arrives In Kazakhstan On 1st Overseas Trip Since Pandemic

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Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Kazakhstan Wednesday in what marks his first trip outside of China in more than 2½ years, and since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Arriving at Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan in the afternoon for what will be a three-day trip which will also see him go to neighboring Uzbekistan, he was warmly greeted by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Xi’s entourage is made up of senior aides, his foreign policy chief, and top economic planning officials.

According to the AP, “Tokayev’s government said the two leaders would discuss energy and trade. Kazakhstan, a sparsely populated country of 19.4 million people and sprawling grasslands, is a major oil and gas producer. China is a leading customer.”

But all eyes will be focused on scheduled events Thursday, when Xi is due to fly to Uzbekistan’s Samarkand eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) led by China and Russia, where he’ll meet with President Vladimir Putin and other Asia leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will be in attendance.

In addition to China and Russia, the SCO is made up of Pakistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan – with Iran and Afghanistan having observer status. The organization is intended as a counterweight to growing US-led alliances in Asia, with Xi expected to promote his own “Global Security Initiative”.

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