Sat, Jul 02, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Putin happy with Russia-China ties

RUSSIAN RENDEZVOUS The Russian leader gave an upbeat assessment of security and economic relations after two back-to-back meetings with China's president

AP , MOSCOW

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) at their second meeting in two days yesterday that he was satisfied with the relationship between the two regional giants.

"I can note with satisfaction that the character of our relations give us full grounds to say that Russia and China have built ties of true partnership and a strategic character," Putin was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

"We have worked out a new mechanism for our cooperation and we can note with satisfaction that we have developed good cooperation in the sphere of security and economic ties are developing," he said.

The two leaders had met on Thursday evening at Putin's country residence outside Moscow, and then, too, they gave an upbeat assessment on Russian-Chinese relations, which have flourished in recent years. Hu's four-day trip reflects the strategic importance Beijing places on ties with Russia.

"Our countries signed a strategic accord on cooperation and resolved our border issues. Russia and China are actively cooperating on the international arena," Hu noted.

Hu and Putin were expected yesterday to sign a declaration reaffirming their nations' call for respecting international law and establishing a stronger UN role internationally, a Kremlin official said on condition of anonymity.

Putin called Hu a "friend," and said the two countries had made "noticeable progress in the development of our political and economic relations."

"I am sure that your arrival in Russia will act as a fresh impetus to advancing our ties," he said.

After decades of rivalry, Moscow and Beijing have developed what they call a strategic partnership since the 1991 Soviet collapse. They have pledged their adherence to a "multipolar world," a term that refers to their opposition to the perceived domination of the US in global affairs.

Moscow and Beijing dominate the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security grouping that also includes the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, facing Western criticism for his government's bloody suppression of a May uprising, has found staunch support in Russia and China.

China and Russia have been concerned about increased US influence in Central Asia since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which led to American troops' deployment in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan for operations in Afghanistan.

The Russian and Chinese militaries this year are due to hold their first joint maneuvers -- which observers have seen as Russia's response to cooling relations with the US and other Western nations.

China has purchased billions of dollars worth of fighters, missiles, submarines and destroyers after the Soviet collapse, becoming the No.1 customer for struggling Russian defense industries.

Now it is eager to gain access to Russian oil and gas to fuel its booming economy, and has lobbied hard for priority access over Japan to an oil pipeline carrying Siberian crude to Asian markets.

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