Chinese President Jiang Zemin met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Thursday afternoon in Shanghai, kicking off a six-nation summit.
Just days before Putin is to meet US President George W. Bush in Slovenia, the Chinese and Russian leaders were expected to show a united front against US plans to build a national missile defence (NMD) system, according to a Reuter report.
Shanghai threw a tight security net for the meeting of the Shanghai Five -- China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- only revealing the summit venue to reporters late on Wednesday.
The group, set up in 1996 to resolve Sino-Soviet border disputes, was expected to admit a new member, Uzbekistan, and to sign an agreement boosting cross-border cooperation between them.
Security is of paramount importance at the summit, which is seen as a test of Shanghai's ability to hold a larger international event, the upcoming informal summit meeting of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in October. US President Bush will join the summit.
"This is a meeting of heads of state, so security must be very tight," said a city official. "This is quite normal."
Reporters are required to go through security checks before every meeting and are whisked by bus to and from the venues through streets cordoned off for the summit.
Jiang's meeting with Putin is the first of three planned for this year.
Shanghai Five members are expected to sign two documents at the summit, one establishing the grouping as a "multilateral regional organisation", and another on boosting cross-border cooperation.