Putin in China to cement ties
Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin review an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit at the Great Hall of the PeopleRussian President Vladimir Putin arrived in China yesterday on his first visit to his country’s vast neighbor since he resumed the Russian presidency earlier this month.
The trip aims to bolster a crucial alliance, with trade ties and foreign policy dominating the agenda. Putin met with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, for a discussion expected to touch on trade, energy cooperation, Iran and the Syrian crisis. Today and tomorrow, Putin and Hu will be among leaders attending the annual summit of the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group including Russia, China and four Central Asian states that seeks to boost regional integration and curb Western influence.
The countries are also preparing for NATO’s departure from Afghanistan. The leaders attending the summit will issue a declaration on guidelines for cracking down on terrorism and building a region of “lasting peace and common prosperity,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin. Putin will also meet with his Iranian and Afghan counterparts as part of the summit. The two countries plan to sign 17 diplomatic and business agreements, which should help support booming trade, Kremlin foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said last week.
Energy giants among the delegation
Along with close coordination in international affairs, the two countries have sought to boost economic ties, particularly in the energy sector, setting a target of raising bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015 and $200 billion by 2020, from $83.5 billion last year. The Russian delegation includes six Cabinet members, the heads of Russia’s energy giants Gazprom, Rosneft and Transneft, and “all the major names of Russian business,” Ushakov said.
While energy is high on the agenda, a long-awaited gas deal that could see Russia supply 70 billion cubic meters of gas a year directly to China will not be signed due to pricing disagreements, Gazprom said June 4. In an article in the People’s Daily, Putin said Russia hoped to export “great quantities” of natural gas to China in the near future. “Our joint projects practically change the entire configuration of the global energy market,” he said.
Among other reported deals to be finalized during the visit is a joint project to develop a new long-haul aircraft by Russian company Ilyushin and China’s Comac. “We are ready to vigorously push forward large cooperation projects in civil aviation manufacture, aerospace and other high-tech industries,” Putin wrote in his article. Although the two nations have had periodic border conflicts and viewed each other with suspicion in Soviet times, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared this weekend that Russia had an exemplary partnership with China on foreign policy.
Compiled from Agence France-Presse and AP stories by the Daily News staff.