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Russia: Moscow Forges Friendship With Beijing

Moscow, 16 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Vladimir Putin have started talks in Moscow this morning aimed at forging a new strategic relationship between the two countries. The leaders are expected to sign a friendship and cooperation pact that details a new partnership in the post-Soviet era. A draft of the document calls for a mutual defense of common interests and a boost in bilateral trade.

Both China and Russia are concerned about U.S. plans to build a missile defense system. The U.S. yesterday tested an interceptor missile that shot down a modified ballistic missile with a mock warhead. Both China and Russia have condemned the test and the planned missile defense system, saying it will spark a new arms race.

Presidents Jiang and Putin also are expected to discuss possible new arms deals, the situations in Iraq, the Serbian province of Kosovo, and the Middle East and other international issues.