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Russia Hosts 'Counterbalance' to U.S., 'Shanghai Cooperation Organization'

Russia is playing host at a summit of China and Central Asian nations today — and the leader of Iran will be a late arrival.

Moscow is expected to use the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to try to cement the six-nation group as a counterbalance to the U.S. presence in the region.

The group includes Kazakhstan (kah-zahk-STAHN'), Kyrgyzstan (KEER'-gih-stan), Tajikistan (tah-JEEK'-ih-stahn) and Uzbekistan (ooz-bek-ih-STAHN'), with countries such as India, Iran and Pakistan holding observer status.

Opening the summit, President Dmitry Medvedev (dih-MEE'-tree med-VYEH'-dyev) said the group would discuss the global financial crisis and regional security. He's expected to discuss the situation in Afghanistan with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Medvedev is also expected to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (ah-muh-DEE'-neh-zhahd). The Iranian leader postponed his arrival until tomorrow amid protests in Iran over his disputed re-election.