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Russia: Chinese Leader Meets Putin For Talks On Energy, Trade, Security

Putin and Hu at the Kremlin today Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Russia for a four-day visit, during which he hopes to secure greater access to Russia's oil and gas, and boost trade exchanges. During talks today at the Kremlin, Hu and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, also signed a joint declaration against what they perceive as the growing influence of the United States in Central Asia and its domination of global affairs.

Moscow, 1 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Hu launched his four-day Russian visit by holding informal talks with Putin at his residence outside Moscow late yesterday.

Speaking after the meeting, Hu expressed satisfaction at China's relations with its neighbor. He said both countries have made significant progress on key issues.

"Thanks to efforts from both sides over the past few years, Russian-Chinese ties have seen a rise in positive trends. We have reached satisfactory results. Our countries signed a strategic accord on cooperation, resolved our border issues, and created a mechanism for bilateral cooperation on security matters," Hu said.

Earlier, he told Russian reporters that bilateral trade between China and Russia could rise from the current $20 billion per year up to $80 billion per year by 2010.
China is eager to tap into Russia's huge oil and gas resources to feed its booming economy.

Putin was no less upbeat about Russian-Chinese relations, particularly in the military sphere.

"We have made noticeable progress in the improvement and development of our political relations, economic ties, and cooperation on humanitarian matters. Our cooperation on the military and technical issues is expanding, as is our cooperation on purely military matters," Putin said.

He said joint military exercises will be held later this year.

Both leaders met again at the Kremlin today for talks, during which Putin declared both sides had solved all their key political issues.

"I can note with satisfaction that the character of our relations gives us every reason to say that Russia and China have now built a truly strategic partnership. We are working out a new mechanism of cooperation, and we are pleased to note that we have developed good cooperation in the fields of security and economy," Putin said.

The leaders made no public declaration related to energy issues, although observers say energy is likely to have topped their agenda.

Sergei Luzyanin is the president of the Foundation for Eastern Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Affairs.

"The most important issue is the energy supply to China from Russia, because the growing shortage of energy resources -- especially oil and gas -- is a strategic problem for China. This problem is becoming a strategic threat to the security of the country for China," Luzyanin said.

China is, indeed, eager to tap into Russia's huge oil and gas resources to feed its booming economy. Beijing has actively lobbied for a pipeline carrying Siberian crude oil to Asian markets to be routed to China instead of Japan. It has also expressed interest in acquiring assets of the embattled oil giant Yukos.

Another important focus of the meeting was the signing of a joint declaration on the "world order in the 21st century." This document condemns what it describes as efforts to monopolize decision-making in global affairs and to impose models of social development from outside.

The collapse of the Soviet Union ended decades of hostility between China and Russia. Since 1991, the two giants have joined hands to oppose what they view as the domination of the United States in international affairs.

China and Russia are also concerned about what they perceive as Washington's attempts to consolidate the U.S. presence in Central Asia, where it has deployed troops for operations in Afghanistan.

Some Russian official have accused the United States of supporting -- or even fomenting -- the uprisings that toppled the governments in the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.

Luzyanin has no doubt that Hu and Putin discussed problems related to security in Central Asia.

"It is absolutely obvious that the recent developments in Central Asia have also influenced the agenda of the Russian-Chinese high-level meeting. I am referring to the March events in Kyrgyzstan -- to the change of power in Bishkek -- and particularly to the events in Uzbekistan, in Andijon, that are linked on the whole to the problem of regional security in the Central Asian region," Luzyanin said.

After his Russian visit, the Chinese president is scheduled to fly to Kazakhstan for a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. That grouping comprises Russia, China, and four Central Asian countries -- Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Putin will also attend this meeting.

Hu and Putin will meet again at a G-8 summit in Scotland starting on 6 July.