May 8, 2015 / 8:56 AM / 5 years ago

Energy, transport deals on the agenda as China's Xi visits Russia

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Energy, transport and finance deals are likely to be on the agenda as Chinese President Xi Jinping meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a three-day visit to Russia, where he will attend World War Two commemorations.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow May 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

The two heads of state will sign a joint statement on strengthening the Sino-Russian partnership and will also talk about plans to build a Europe-Asia trade and infrastructure network, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said this week, state media reported.

Deals likely to be discussed during the visit, which begins on Friday, include long-term crude oil trade cooperation, an eastern natural gas line project and accelerating a refinery joint venture in the coastal city of Tianjin, according to Chinese media.

The topic of more Chinese financing to Russian firms, which have been hamstrung by Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine, is also likely to be broached, reports said.

The two leaders could also speak about cooperating to build a railway link between the Russian cities of Moscow and Kazan. Foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said on May 6 that China had offered to provide 300 billion euros ($335.82 billion) of financing for the project.

Xi is in Russia to join in commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe. Other leaders, mainly from Asia, former Soviet republics and Latin America, are also expected to attend.

The Chinese president has made a big public show of underscoring the importance of ties with Russia, and Moscow was the first capital he visited as president.

In an signed article published in Russian media on May 7 and reposted on China’s foreign ministry’s website, Xi recounted Russia and China’s experiences and victories during World War Two.

“China and Russia supported each other against the fascists and militarism, fought alongside each other, and cemented our friendship through blood and the loss of lives,” he wrote.

While China and Russia see eye-to-eye on many international diplomatic issues, Beijing has been careful not to be drawn into the struggle between Russia and the West over Ukraine’s future.

Nonetheless, Chinese officials have said that Western powers should take into consideration Russia’s legitimate security concerns over Ukraine.

Before arriving in Russia, Xi was in Kazakhstan, and will pay a state visit to Belarus on May 10 to 12.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and SHANGHAI Newsroom; Editing by Alex Richardson

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