Panda-bearing Xi expects 'fruitful results' from Putin meeting

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 6 Jun 2019

President Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin praised their countries' relations during a meeting in the Kremlin last night, as Beijing and Moscow seek to shore up ties amid tensions with Washington.

Putin said the visit is a "key event" in relations between the two neighbors.

"Our relationship will be better and better," said Xi, who was received with full honors when he arrived at Moscow's Vnukovo airport in the afternoon.

The trip comes five years after Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula led to a serious rift with its Western partners and subsequent turn toward its neighbor to the east.

"In recent years, thanks to your direct participation, the relationship between Russia and China has reached an unprecedentedly high level," Putin said.

Xi said the visit will "serve as an incentive for the development of Chinese-Russian relations, comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction in a new era."

He added: "I am certain this visit will yield fruitful results."

After watching a performance at the Bolshoi Theatre, Xi is set to travel to Russia's former imperial capital Saint Petersburg. There he will attend an economic forum hosted by Putin today and tomorrow.

Putin's foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said the visit is "a crucial event for our bilateral relations."

Ushakov said Xi and Putin would sign a new declaration on "global partnership and strategic cooperation, which are entering a new era."

The Chinese delegation brought two pandas as gifts, which are bound for the Moscow Zoo.

"The animal is a symbol of China and the gesture is very important to our partners," Ushakov said.

The partnership is yielding increasing trade, which has risen by 25 percent last year to hit a record US$108 billion (HK$842.4 billion), he added, calling China "Russia's most important economic partner."

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui praised the visit as having a "milestone significance in the development of bilateral relations."

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