06/15/2006, 00.00
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Ahmadinejad in Shanghai to talk nuclear with Hu Jintao and Putin

Two bilateral meetings are scheduled during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. Scores of political activists have been arrested as a preventive measure against protest.

Shanghai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For further developments on the Iranian nuclear programme, eyes are on Shanghai, where the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is holding a summit.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to meet the presidents of China and Russia, Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin.

As a regional security group, SCO is meant to oppose US influence in Asia. Its members are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan e Uzbekistan. Like India, Pakistan and Mongolia, Iran has observer status.

Authorities in the Chinese city have rounded up scores of political activists and moved them to a detention facility on the outskirts of the city to prevent disturbances during the meeting of the regional security group, dissidents and family members said yesterday.

Shanghai police has deployed more than 60,000 regular and paramilitary officer and agents to maintain order during the meeting. The authorities have also shut vast sections of the city to traffic and sent out sniffer dogs to subway stations.

Ahmadinejad will address the group today and give a news conference afterwards. He is also planning to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, today, and China's Hu Jintao, tomorrow.

In both meetings, the Iranian nuclear programme is likely to be the main topic of discussion in view of Iran's expected response to the 'package of incentives' offered by the 5+1 group, i.e. the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States) plus Germany.

Ahmadinejad will probably try to gage China's and Russia's intentions vis-à-vis possible sanctions in case the 'package' is rejected.

China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing discussed the Iranian nuclear crisis on the phone with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The two "exchanged views on enhancing relations between China and the United States and international issues of common concern," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, adding that "China will continue to play a constructive role to help peacefully solve the Iran nuclear issue through negotiations".

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