Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to boost trade and cooperation with China after meeting Chinese leaders as the sides push against Western calls for stronger action in Syria and Iran.
Putin and President Hu Jintao agreed yesterday in Beijing to increase trade to $200 billion by 2020 from $83.5 billion in 2011. The two leaders also discussed North Africa, the Korean Peninsula and Iran’s nuclear program, said Putin, who will meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while in Beijing.
Putin is moving to strengthen Russia’s economic and political ties with China after skipping a Group of Eight summit in the U.S. last month. As veto-wielding members of the United Nations Security Council, Russia and China have blocked resolutions pushing for stronger sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and oppose expanding Iran sanctions.
“The most important thing is that we reached high level of coordination in order to help mediating and solving international crises and problems,” Putin said at a joint press conference yesterday. “Thanks to our efforts we have lifted the level of Russian-Chinese cooperation to unprecedented heights.”
In total, Putin and Hu oversaw the signing of 12 agreements, including the the creation of a $4 billion joint investment fund. The wealth funds of Russia and China will each commit $1 billion, raising additional money from third-party international investors, China Investment Corp. said on its website.
Putin will stay in Beijing for a June 6-7 meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization security alliance and meet Ahmadinejad. Chinese Vice Foreign Affairs Minister Cheng Guoping in May said China opposes sanctions that restrict normal trade with Iran.
“The situation internationally remains very difficult,” Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said after meeting Putin today. Strengthening the partnership “has crucial importance for ensuring peace and stability in the world,” Wen said.
Putin also met today with Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang. He told Xi the two sides would continue military cooperation.
In a meeting with Wen today, Ahmadinejad said Iran’s relationship with China has “no negative aspects” and said his country wants to develop ties. Wen told Ahmadinejad the sides would use the opportunity to boost understanding and trust.
The Ahmadinejad meeting foreshadows an international round of talks about Iran’s atomic program in Moscow on June 18-19, the third attempt in three months to address global concerns that the Persian Gulf state is developing atomic weapons.
Iran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, and is seeking relief from the economic sanctions the U.S. and European Union have imposed.
Later today, China Development Bank Corp. Chairman Chen Yuan said the bank has outstanding loans of $38.5 billion to the other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Kazakhstsan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Chen told a briefing that the group plans to set up its own development bank with the goal of promoting settlement in local currencies.
— With assistance by Ilya Arkhipov