* Putin, Sechin to hold energy meetings
* Gazprom export chief on sidelines, not part of official
* Syria focus of talks after Russia, China opposn on UN vote
By Chris Buckley and Gleb Bryanski
BEIJING/MOSCOW, Oct 10 China and Russia will
discuss an elusive giant gas deal during Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin's visit to Beijing, but a Russian official said on Monday
that there were no plans to sign an agreement just yet.
Putin's two-day visit from Tuesday will be his first foreign
trip since revealing plans to reclaim Russia's presidency. He
could seek to narrow price disagreements that have prevented
Russia from signing a 30-year deal to supply China with up to 68
billion cubic metres of gas per year.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a news
conference that during the visit, Chinese Vice Premier Wang
Qishan would hold a fresh round of energy cooperation
negotiations with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin.
But in a further sign that the talks would yield no final
agreement on price, Russia's gas export chief, Alexander
Medvedev, said he would not be part of formal talks.
Medvedev, chief executive of Russian state-controlled gas
company Gazprom's export arm, said he was in Beijing
merely to oblige if Chinese officials wished to speak to him.
"It is quite clear that it is not easy to find a solution,"
he told Reuters by telephone.
The tortuous gas negotiations have been a reminder that,
despite frequent professions of brotherly goodwill between
Moscow and Beijing, relations are held back by mutual distrust
extending back to the Cold War, when border disputes almost
erupted in full-fledged war.
Liu did not comment directly on any prospects for a gas
agreement. The export chief of Gazprom, the Russian gas
supplier, told Reuters last month that the five-year-old
negotiations might not end this year.
"Chinese-Russian energy cooperation is an important part of
the two countries' strategic cooperation," said Liu.
"The meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Sechin and Vice
Premier Wang Qishan will allow more thorough exchanges of views
on energy cooperation," he added.
"NOT PLANNED AT THIS POINT"
In Moscow, a senior government official said Putin had no
plan to sign a gas pricing deal during his visit.
"The signing of the gas pricing deal is not planned at this
point," Yuri Ushakov, the government's deputy chief of staff,
He said a delegation of officials, experts and energy sector
executives, headed by Sechin, was already in Beijing to discuss
a wide range of issues, including future gas supplies.
Russia wants to diversify its trade with China, which is
expected to grow to $100 billion in 2020 from $59.3 billion in
"This is very important for us. Our exports are massive but
are mainly resource-based. We are not happy with it. We will
discuss measures to correct this," he said.
Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao will discuss Syria
after China joined Russia last week to block a proposed U.N.
Security Council resolution that Western powers backed to
condemn the bloody crackdown there, he added.
Chinese ministry spokesman Liu did not directly comment on
the contentious issue of a Chinese national whom Russian
authorities last week said faced charges of suspected military
The Chinese citizen is accused of trying to buy sensitive
material on a Russian anti-aircraft missile system while working
as a translator, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said,
according to the state-run RIA news agency.
It said the suspect was detained in October last year.
Prosecutors filed charges of espionage with the Moscow City
Court last week.