QINGDAO – China opened a two-day regional security summit attended by Russia, Iran and other allies confronting rising tensions with the United States over trade and Washington’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.
Armoured vans lined the streets of the coastal city of Qingdao as world leaders arrived for the 18th annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a regional security bloc led by China and Russia.
Its member states also include four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics, Pakistan and India. Iran is an observer member.
Authorities emptied an entire oceanside swathe of the city – clearing out shopkeepers, residents and day-trippers to make way for Chinese President Xi Jinping, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani yesterday.
The SCO comes after President Donald Trump controversially pulled Washington out of the 2015 international pact with Iran that placed limits on its nuclear programme in return for easing economic sanctions.
Though not officially on the agenda, analysts say that one key topic of discussion will focus on whether Iran will be allowed to ascend from its position as an SCO observer to become a full member state – a development it has sought since 2008 but has been unable to achieve while subject to UN sanctions.
The 2015 nuclear deal lifted that barrier. — AFP