Russia's Putin swipes at U.S. after summit of Asian states

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused the United States of throwing its weight around and defended the growing clout of an Asian security group dominated by Russia and China.

Putin, speaking to journalists after a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, denied that the organization was a military-political bloc aimed at countering U.S. interests.

But in a nearly two-hour meeting in his Shanghai hotel suite, he reeled off a list of complaints about what he described as overbearing behavior by the United States.

Washington, Putin said, had brought upon itself the eviction of a U.S. military base in Uzbekistan by acting "like a bull in a china shop" and seeking to impose outside democratic standards on a volatile region plagued by Islamic radicalism.

The United States fell out with the authoritarian regime of Uzbek President Islam Karimov after criticizing the violent suppression of a popular revolt in the city of Andijan in May 2005.

Uzbekistan is one of the members of the SCO, which groups China, Russia and four Central and Asian nations and counts Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia as observers.

Putin suggested that Washington was displeased at the emergence of a newly influential organization such as the SCO.

"They don't like the fact that countries like China and Russia have joined efforts in solving common problems, that India and Pakistan are taking part and that it has attracted Iran," he said. "Their worry is that they can't influence it."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took part in the summit, urged China, Russia and other Asian nations on Thursday to combine their economic and diplomatic clout to bolster the region's resistance to the United States.

Putin also criticized U.S. demands in negotiations on Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, including its insistence on compliance with U.S. legislation in certain sectors such as agriculture. The United States is the last country with which Russia needs to strike a bilateral accord to join the global trade body.

"We're not joining the United States, we're joining the WTO," Putin remarked acidly, reports AP.


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