China’s Xi Jinping to meet Russia's Putin to 'deepen bilateral trust'

Russian leader invited his Chinese counterpart to visit Russia during a video conference call in December

China's President Xi Jinping. AP
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China says President Xi Jinping will visit Russia for three days starting on March 20 to discuss economic, political and security ties.

Mr Xi will exchange opinions on major international and regional issues with the Russian President, China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The objective of the visit is to deepen bilateral trust, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

No other details were given, but China has declared a “no-limits” friendship with Russia and has not criticised Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while calling for a ceasefire and declaring that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries be respected.

The Kremlin on Friday also announced the visit, saying it will take place “at the invitation of Vladimir Putin”.

The leaders will discuss “issues of further development of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction between Russia and China”, as well as exchange views “in the context of deepening Russian-Chinese co-operation in the international arena”, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The two leaders will also sign “important bilateral documents”, the statement read.

Beijing also condemned western sanctions and accused Nato and the United States of provoking Russia.

Mr Putin invited Mr Xi to visit Russia during a video conference in late December. The visit, Mr Putin said, could “demonstrate to the whole world the strength of the Russian-Chinese ties” and “become the main political event of the year in bilateral relations”.

Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman, fourth right, greets Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Gulf Co-operation Council Summit, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. AP

More recently, China sought to play up its credentials as an independent mediator in the Ukraine conflict after hosting talks last week at which Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore full diplomatic relations.

In a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart on Thursday, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang said Beijing is concerned about the year-old conflict with Russia spinning out of control and urged talks on a political solution with Moscow.

Mr Qin told Dmytro Kuleba that China has “always upheld an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine issue, has committed itself to promoting peace and advancing negotiations and calls on the international community to create conditions for peace talks”, China’s Foreign Ministry said on its website.

Mr Kuleba later tweeted that he and Mr Qin “discussed the significance of the principle of territorial integrity”.

“I underscored the importance of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s]’s Peace Formula for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine,” wrote Mr Kuleba, who on the same day spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Updated: March 20, 2023, 6:18 AM