Wed, May 28, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Putin hosts Hu in Kremlin talks with eye to expand ties

AP , MOSCOW

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Russian President Vladimir Putin were expected to push to expand bilateral ties during formal talks in the Kremlin yesterday.

The Chinese leader chose Russia for his first trip abroad since replacing Jiang Zemin (江澤民) as president in March. The visit underlines the importance that the two nations' place on their strategic partnership, based in part on a shared ambition to offset US global domination.

Russian officials have stressed that they expect Hu to stay the course set by Jiang. In 2001, Putin and Jiang signed a friendship treaty -- the first such document since 1950, when Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong (毛澤東) created a Soviet-Chinese alliance, which slid into rivalry and then hostility in the 1960s.

"The latest changes and processes in China have been at the level of mutual understanding and they have fit in well with the program for joint work," Putin's deputy chief of staff Sergei Prikhodko was quoted as telling the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Prikhodko said that yesterday's talks will focus on the development of bilateral relations, cooperation in the international arena and trade.

Before heading into the Kremlin, Hu laid a wreath under bright, sunny skies at Russia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a traditional stop for all visiting foreign leaders at the foot of the red bricks of the Kremlin wall.

Hu arrived in Moscow yesterday, when he met informally with Putin at the Russian leader's Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside the city. Putin already has had several meetings with Hu, the last in December.

Putin said Monday that he had a "personal relationship" with Hu, and was pleased to welcome him not only to Russia but also to his home.

Later this week, the two leaders will take part in a Moscow summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a six-nation group that also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics.

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