Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 17:36 UK

Shanghai group leaders open talks

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Yekaterinburg, Russia - 15/6/2009
The two-day meeting in the Urals was opened by the Russian president (R)

Chinese President Hu Jintao and leaders from Central Asia have joined Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for a summit on economic and security issues.

Opening the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation's ninth summit in Yekaterinburg, Mr Medvedev said the group had made good progress.

Some of the leaders will also attend a summit of the four emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The global economic crisis is expected to dominate both meetings.

But regional political issues are also expected to be on the agenda, with leaders of a number of neighbours attending the summit as observers.

The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) brings together Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia later joined as observer members.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari were expected to hold their first meeting since last November's attacks on Mumbai, which India has blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

Also, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was no longer expected to attend after unrest in his country over his disputed re-election.

Multi-polar world

"The time flies so fast, the organisation has been created only recently but already some rather serious work has been done," Mr Medvedev said in his opening statement.

The SCO was formed in 2001 to curb extremism in the region and enhance border security.

It was China's answer to a multi-polar world and increasingly it has played a role in promoting regional security, for example by contributing to reconstruction in Afghanistan, says the BBC China analyst Shirong Chen.

Under the current economic crisis, however, SCO countries are seeking to develop co-ordinated measures to stabilise their economies and maintain growth in Eurasia through multilateral trade and co-operation, our correspondent says.

Trade between China and the other five full members has grown from $12bn (£7.3bn) in 2001 to $68bn in 2007.

There have been moves to build a single energy market and a common transportation corridor within the SCO.

The energy-thirsty China will benefit from all this, but China has also provided training and other services in return.

Leaders from the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, the so-called Bric countries, will hold their first ever summit in Russia on Tuesday.

The term Bric was coined in the same year the SCO was set up.

The last eight years have seen a shift of power both politically and economically, with China as the biggest winner, says BBC China analyst Shirong Chen.

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