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Iran and Russia nip at US global dominance

At conference in Siberia, leaders of Russia, China, India, and Iran float idea of new 'supranational' currency. China offers $10 billion to neighbors.

Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) pose for a photo at Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Tuesday.

MIKHAIL METZEL/AP

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The "age of empires has ended" and the "international capitalist order is retreating," declared a beaming Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday, speaking in the Siberian city of Yekaterinburg before an audience that included the top leaders of Russia, China, and India.

Experts are debating why Iran's controversial president chose to address the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional grouping led by Russia and China – of which Iran is only an observer – even as he still faces mass protests and sharp questions at home over his deeply disputed election victory last week.

Some argue that Mr. Ahmadinejad selected exactly the right forum in which to make his case. The six-member SCO, founded in 2001, has grown rapidly into a key political and economic alliance, which has successfully moved to oust United States military bases from member states Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and is angling for a much wider role in regional affairs.

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