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Xi welcomes ‘dear friend’ Putin to Beijing

18 Oct 2023 - 15:07

Chinese leader Xi Jin­ping welcomed his “dear friend” Russian President Vladimir Putin to Beijing on Tuesday, kicking off a multilateral summit overshadowed by Israel bombing of Gaza.

Afghan Voice Agency (AVA) - Monitoring: Beijing this week hosts representatives of 130 countries for a forum on Xi’s vast trade and infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
At the top of the guest list is Putin, who is on his first trip to a major global power since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine threw his regime into international isolation.
The two leaders met on Tuesday evening at an event kicking off the forum, video posted by Russia’s foreign ministry showed, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries.
They also took part in a group photo with other leaders attending the summit.
At an official banquet, Xi delivered a toast in which he alluded to recent geopolitical conflicts, but added that “the historical (trend) of peace” was “unstoppable”.
“Although the world today is not peaceful, downward pressure on the global economy is increasing, and global development faces a great deal of challenges, we firmly believe that the historical trends of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual wins are unstoppable,” said Xi, accor­ding to state news agency Xinhua.
Putin is due to hold in-depth talks with Xi on the sidelines of the forum on Wednesday, the Kremlin said, with the war raging between Israel and Palestinian militant organisation Hamas looming large over the summit.
“During the talks, special attention will be paid to international and regional issues,” the Kremlin said in a statement, without elaborating.
In Beijing, Putin is on a mission to strengthen the already strong bond with his communist neighbour, though experts say Moscow is increasingly the junior partner in the relationship.
China is Russia’s largest trading partner, with exchange between the nations reaching a record $190 billion last year, Beijing customs data shows.
Beijing has drawn criticism from Western countries for its stance on the Ukraine war, on which China insists it is neutral even as it refuses to criticise Moscow’s invasion.
When Xi made a state visit to Moscow in March, Putin hailed the “truly unlimited possibilities” their countries’ partnership offered.
But while the BRI forum provides a fresh opportunity for Putin and Xi to showcase their alliance, experts do not expect any new ma­jor agreements to be ann­ounced.
“Russia is aware that China doesn’t want to sign any high publicity deals,” Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, told AFP.
“China holds all of the cards,” he said./Dawn news

Story Code: 278658

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