Sun, Feb 24, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Russia, China proclaim unity ahead of Xi visit

AFP, MOSCOW

Russia and China said on Friday they saw eye-to-eye on all the world’s problems including the Syria conflict, as the Chinese foreign minister held talks in Moscow to prepare for a visit by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) later this year.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) confirmed after talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General and Vice President Xi would visit Russia after he is confirmed as head of state next month to succeed President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

Yang did not directly confirm Chinese reports that Russia would be Xi’s first foreign destination after taking the office of president at a session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) next month, in what would be a hugely symbolic trip.

However, he made clear that Xi would be attending the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit of the world’s top-five developing economies in Durban, South Africa, from March 26 to March 27 alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia and China have stood shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the two-year conflict in Syria, with Beijing joining its fellow permanent UN Security Council member Moscow in vetoing resolutions that would have introduced sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“Russia and China have united positions, and promote these united positions in negotiations, on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, including the Syrian crisis, Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear program and other crises,” Lavrov said at a news conference alongside Yang.

“On all these cases, we and our Chinese friends are led by one and the same principle — the necessity to observe international law, respect UN procedures and not allow interference from outside in domestic conflicts and all the more the use of force,” Lavrov added.

Lavrov said that Russia and China had a similarly united position condemning North Korea’s third nuclear test earlier this month as “unacceptable.”

However, he said that Moscow and Beijing also agreed that it was important that the test was not used as a pretext to start a new arms race in the region or allow external intervention.

Fully developing ties with its booming neighbor has become a major priority for Putin’s Kremlin at a time of difficult relations with the West and as state gas firm Gazprom and other Russian firms seek new markets for exports.

Despite their tight diplomatic alliance, Russia and China have still failed to finalize a potentially huge gas deal which could eventually see almost 70 billion cubic meters of Russian gas pumped to China annually for the next 30 years.

Gazprom and China National Petroleum Co signed a framework agreement in 2009, but differences remain over the pricing and no final agreement has yet been signed.

However, Yang, who held a closed-door meeting with Putin the day earlier, said that the two countries’ bilateral relations were of huge importance for the world as a whole.

“We believe together that Russia-China relations do not just have major importance for our countries, but have an influence on ensuring peace and development on the planet as a whole,” Yang said.

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