World

Russian and Chinese leaders meet, hail their close ties

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed close ties between the two nations during their meeting Thursday on the sidelines of a summit of an alliance dominated by Moscow and Beijing.

The leaders are attending a two-day summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, which also includes India, Pakistan and several ex-Soviet Central Asian nations.

Welcoming Xi at the start of the talks in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, Putin said the Chinese leader's visit to Russia later this year would be a "major event."

Xi in turn hailed the "strategic" China-Russia ties, saying that "our cooperation and mutual support have a great global significance."

The SCO was founded in Shanghai in 1996 as a counterweight to Western alliances. In 2015 the group approved the membership of India and Pakistan, and the current summit will fully formalize their accession to the group.

Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Belarus have an observer status in the group.