Chinese leader Xi Jinping stayed away from a dinner attended by 11 heads of states at a regional security summit in Uzbekistan, in line with his delegation’s Covid-19 policy, an Uzbek government source said on Friday.
Xi, who is on his first foreign trip since the beginning of the pandemic, is attending a meeting of the China- and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Uzbek city of Samarkand.
However, he was absent from group photographs published late on Thursday when the leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, went for dinner.
An Uzbek government source confirmed Xi’s absence and said the Chinese delegation cited its Covid-19 policy as the reason.
In Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Xi, 69, is set to secure a historic third leadership term at a Communist Party congress that will begin next month.
Putin, Xi to Address Leaders
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are set to address fellow leaders at a summit in Uzbekistan on Friday.
Putin and Xi are attending a meeting of the SCO, which is a regional body their countries have led since inception which that now also includes heavyweights such as India and is about to admit Iran.
Putin said on Thursday he understood that Xi had questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine but praised China’s leader for what he said was a “balanced” position on the conflict.
Putin also plans to meet the leaders of Azerbaijan, India and Turkey on Friday.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard