Russia's President Vladimir Putin, right, and China's President Xi Jinping review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Xijiao State Guesthouse Tuesday. Pic: AP.

SHANGHAI (AP) — China’s president has called for creation of a new Asian structure for security cooperation based on a regional group that includes Russia and Iran and excludes the United States.

President Xi Jinping spoke Tuesday at a meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia. The previously little-known group, founded in the 1990s, has taken on significance as Beijing tries to extend its influence abroad and limit the role of the United States, which it sees as a strategic rival.

Speaking to an audience that included presidents of Russia and Iran, Xi said, “we need to innovate our security cooperation (and) establish new regional security cooperation architecture.”

Xi made no mention of China’s ongoing conflict with Vietnam over Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in disputed seas.