China's Xi visits 'best friend' Putin, vows new era of ties

China's President Xi Jinping met the Russian leader earlier this year in Beijing when President Vladimir Putin visited

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Russian Federation and China will push ahead with cooperation for easing tensions on the peninsula and enhancing security in the northeast of Asia in general.

The strategic China-Russia East-Route Natural Gas Pipeline project will begin supplying gas within this year, the ministry said.

"We will strengthen our mutual support on key issues", Xi said, sitting next to Putin in an ornate Kremlin hall.

The visit follows a meeting between Xi and Putin in Beijing at the end of April.

Bilateral trade increased a year ago by about a quarter to a record US$108 billion (S$147.34 billion).

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Recognizing that the current worldwide security is facing serious challenges, China and Russian Federation intend to deepen strategic mutual trust and strengthen strategic coordination to firmly safeguard global and regional strategic stability, according to the joint statement.

The two countries are marking the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year and their leaders are expected to sign a raft of treaties during bilateral talks.

Only by upholding equality and mutual respect can big nations develop sound bilateral relations, Li said, adding that the China-Russia relationship acts as a role model for the worldwide community.

Russian Federation may have had unrealistic expectations from its pivot to the east following Western sanctions over Ukraine, said Alexander Gabuev, who heads the Asia programme at the Carnegie Moscow Centre.

Li spoke highly of the progress the two countries have made in their pragmatic cooperation, saying the Belt and Road Initiative has boosted the two countries' economic development.

Still, Russia needs China much more than the other way round, according to the analyst.

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Addressing the audience at the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, Putin said the bilateral relationship has gone through an extraordinary course of development over the past seven decades.

Xi unveiled the pandas - Ru Yi and Ding Ding - after talks with Putin whom he called his "best friend" at the start of a three-day visit that will see him attend Russia's flagship economic forum in St Petersburg later this week. The congregation of foreign leaders and investors is attended by high-ranking Kremlin officials including Mr Putin.

Nevertheless, China's share in Russian foreign trade has almost doubled since then, he added.

Now it is time for the two countries to build on the momentum and translate the latest upgrade of relations into more concrete achievements so as to bring greater benefits to the two peoples and the wider world.

China and Russian Federation also pledged to promote multilateralism and expressed commitment to working together to preserve the system of global mechanisms on non-proliferation and arms control.

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