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Monday July 22, 2024

China's Xi Jinping to meet Putin, exchange major opinions next week

Beijing's foreign ministry did not confirm whether Xi plans to hold rumoured call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

By AFP
March 17, 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to China’s President Xi Jinping during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization leaders’ summit in Samarkand on Sept. 16, 2022.— AFP/file
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to China’s President Xi Jinping during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization leaders’ summit in Samarkand on Sept. 16, 2022.— AFP/file

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Russia next week, Beijing's foreign ministry said Friday, his first trip to Moscow in nearly four years.

"At the invitation of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Russia from March 20 to 22," the ministry said in a statement.

Xi last visited Russia in 2019, though Putin attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing last year and the two leaders also met at a regional security gathering in Uzbekistan in September.

The pair will talk about "strategic cooperation", according to a near-simultaneous statement from the Kremlin.

The two leaders "will discuss deepening the exhaustive partnership and strategic cooperation between Russia and China", including on the international stage, the Kremlin said, adding, "important bilateral documents will be signed".

The visit will come just over a year into Moscow's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

China has sought to portray itself as a neutral party in the conflict, but its position has been criticised by some Western leaders as lacking credibility and providing tacit support for Moscow.

In a 12-point position paper on the war published last month, China called for dialogue and respect for all countries' territorial sovereignty.

China and Russia are also strategic allies, with both sides frequently touting what they call a "no limits" partnership.

Beijing's foreign ministry did not confirm whether Xi also planned to hold a rumoured call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when asked at a routine press conference on Friday.

China's foreign minister on Thursday urged Kyiv and Moscow to restart peace talks "as soon as possible", while Kyiv said the call also raised the importance of Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Beijing "hopes that all parties will keep calm, exercise restraint, resume peace talks as soon as possible and return to the track of political settlement", Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call.