Ahead of a visit to China, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow sees relations with Beijing as a top priority.
In an interview with Chinese media released on May 19, Putin said "the strengthening of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, as well as the increase of investment flows between Russia and China, are of paramount importance."
Putin said a long-negotiated deal on the export of Russian natural gas to China is close to being signed and that Russia would welcome more Chinese investment, in particular in a free-trade zone being established in the Far East.
Putin is scheduled to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai on May 20.
He will also attend a summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia in Shanghai on May 21.
Based on reporting by AP and Interfax