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May 20, 2014

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Putin says relations with China are a top priority

RUSSIA sees relations with China as a top priority and their ties now are the best ever, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with the Chinese media released by the Kremlin ahead of his arrival in Shanghai today.

“China is our reliable friend,” Putin said. “To expand cooperation with China is undoubtedly Russia’s diplomatic priority.”

China is already Russia’s largest single trading partner, with bilateral trade of US$90 billion in 2013, and the two neighbors aim to more than double that to US$200 billion by the end of the decade, according to Xinhua news agency.

Putin said a deal on Russian natural gas exports to China was close to being signed, adding that it would allow Russia to diversify its export routes and let China meet its growing demand for energy.

“For Russia, implementing these agreements means diversifying gas supply destinations, while for our Chinese partners it could be a remedy for energy shortages and ecological problems,” he said.

Russia, which sends the bulk of its gas exports to Europe, has sought to develop an alternative export link to China, but the two nations have been locked in talks over prices for years.

“In the context of the turbulent global economy, 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.

The two countries have developed a “strategic partnership,” including close political, economic and military ties.

Russia has supplied sophisticated weapons to China, and the neighbors have conducted joint military drills.

Putin said Russia would welcome more Chinese investments, in particular in a free trade zone being established in the far eastern port of Vladivostok.

“Obviously, we are interested in Chinese businessmen making use of these opportunities and become one of the leaders here, since both Russia and China will benefit from an accelerated development of the Russian Far East,” he said.


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