ASTANA (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday urged members of a regional security club to resist external meddling, while President Vladimir Putin was due to speak about creating a new Eurasian security system at the group’s annual meeting.

Putin and the Chinese president have expanded the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a club founded in 2001 with Russia, China and Central Asian nations, to include India, Iran and Pakistan as a counterweight to the West.

“In the face of the real risks of small yards with high fences, we must safeguard the right to development,” Xi was quoted by Chinese state television CCTV as saying in Astana at the meeting.

The bloc must handle “internal difference” with peace, seek common ground, and resolve co-operation difficulties, Xi added.

The main meeting took place behind closed doors, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, quoted by the RIA news agency, said on Thursday Putin would discuss with the group his idea of creating a new set of Eurasian collective security treaties.

Putin said last month a new regional security system was necessary, and it should be open to all countries on the continent, including NATO members, but its aim should be to gradually remove all external military presence from Eurasia, a clear reference to the United States.

(Reporting by Pavel Mikheyev; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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