Putin in China to Cement Ties on Foreign Policy, Boost Trade

Posted June 5th, 2012 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in China for a three-day visit aimed at boosting trade and furthering cooperation on foreign policy issues such as Syria and Iran.

Mr. Putin, who is making his first trip to Asia since starting his controversial third term as president last month, met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday. He will participate in an annual regional security summit in Beijing later in the week.

China and Russia are not traditional allies. But ties between the former Cold War rivals have grown stronger in recent months as they have worked together to defy international calls to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad amid ongoing violence there.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said Tuesday that Beijing and Moscow remain unified in their position on Syria.

“Both China and Russia are consistently opposed to external intervention in the Syrian situation and oppose regime change by force.”

The two nations have also opposed new sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program that many Western nations suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

Economic cooperation is also expected to be high on the agenda during Mr. Putin's visit. Officials hope to sign a number of agreements aimed at boosting bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015.

Later this week, Mr. Putin is also expected to meet with the men slated to take over key government positions in China when it undergoes a once-in-a-decade transition later this year. On Wednesday Mr. Putin will meet with Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is expected to be China's next premier, and Xi Jinping, who is tipped as the next president.

Mr. Putin will also participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting being held Wednesday and Thursday in Beijing, where he is expected to hold talks with the presidents of Iran and Afghanistan. The six-member grouping is aimed at increasing regional cooperation and curbing Western influence.