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Russia: Chinese Foreign Minister Heads To Moscow

Moscow, 27 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan is due to arrive in Moscow today on a two-day visit. Tang is set to meet Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov for talks focusing on military cooperation, bilateral relations, and international issues.

Tang is also expected to initial a Russian-Chinese treaty that will be signed by Chinese President Jiang Zemin in a visit to Moscow this summer.

Tomorrow, Tang will attend a meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Five. The group includes Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. They established the informal alliance in 1996 to promote confidence-building measures along China's border with the former Soviet Union.

Separately, North Korean Defense Minister Kim Il-chol is due today to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov in Moscow for talks on military cooperation.

During his visit, Kim also will meet Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who is in charge of defense production. The officials also are expected to discuss the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Kim is scheduled to leave Moscow tomorrow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited North Korea last year in a trip to boost bilateral relations. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is expected to visit Russia this year.

Russia has been trying to boost its profile on the Korean peninsula under Putin, acting as a mediator between North and South Korea.

Meanwhile, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization will meet today in Moscow.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will serve as chairman for the meeting expected to focus on the organization's economic priorities.

The group has 11 members: Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Albania, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, and Greece

Lastly, the Russian space agency has refused to delay the launch of a spaceship taking U.S. millionaire Dennis Tito to the International Space Station.

The U.S. space administration, NASA, asked for the delay of the Russian launch because technical problems have delayed the return of the U.S. space shuttle now docked at the international space station.

A shuttle director said the shuttle and the Soyuz space capsule should not be docked at the space station at the same time.

A spokesman for the Russian agency said today that the Soyuz space capsule will be launched as planned early Saturday from the Baikonur station in Kazakhstan.

Cosmonauts Yuri Baturin and Talgat Musabayev will be the crew members, joined by Tito, who is the first paying "space tourist."