x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Putin slams 'arrogant world powers' at China meeting

Russian prime minister lashes out at 'arrogant' world powers and accused western nations of hypocrisy for backing revolutions in North African countries that had previously enjoyed their strong support.

MOSCOW // The Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, lashed out yesterday at "arrogant world powers" as he hosted his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, for a regional security summit Moscow bills as a counterpart to Nato.

Mr Putin, Russia's likely new head of state after next year's presidential elections, accused western nations of hypocrisy for backing revolutions in North African countries that previously enjoyed their strong support.

"It really is just like you said -these are arrogant world powers," Mr Putin said in response to remarks from the Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, made during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Saint Petersburg.

"They also supported the old North African regimes," news agencies quoted Mr Putin as saying, in a clear reference to European powers and the United States.

"But what is interesting, they also supported the North African revolutions as well, the ones that overthrew the old regimes," Mr Putin added.

Russia strongly opposed Nato's air campaign in Libya and has warned the West against acting tough towards its close Soviet-era ally, Syria.

The 10-year-old SCO joins Russia and China with the four former Soviet states of Central Asia in a loose security union that Moscow hopes to develop into a more powerful force rivalling the Brussels-based Nato bloc.

Iran was one of three nations along with Pakistan and India to have applied to join the organisation. Mongolia also has observer status.

Yesterday's summit brought together mainly prime ministers from the SCO's member and observer states. But the group made no formal decision on expansion at the meeting and was short on other concrete results.

Meanwhile, SCO members praised their economies' "stability" and "attractiveness for investment" in a joint statement.

The bloc said it would create a joint development bank that would finance projects to improve transit potential and infrastructure.