Xi Jinping
DIPLOMACY

Xi Jinping gets straight down to business in Moscow

President steps off plane with first lady on historic first trip abroad and is soon in talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 11:26am
 

A smiling Xi Jinping stepped off a plane in Moscow yesterday on his first trip since he was installed as president.

Holding his arm was his wife, Peng Liyuan, who was making her first official public appearance as first lady.

It marked the start of a hectic two-day visit that highlights Beijing's eagerness to foster closer ties with Russia.

Peng, 50, a famous soprano, has kept a low profile since her husband became vice-president in 2008, quitting performances and doing charity work.

But expectations had mounted over the past month that she would accompany Xi on his first foreign trip as president.

In contrast to previous first ladies, who usually wore loose and plain outfits, Peng wore an elegant dark coat and a pale blue scarf, matching her husband's dark coat and tie. She also carried a handbag bearing no brand.

In talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin and at a press conference later, Xi said that he and Putin are good friends who always speak in a good manner and "treat each other with an open soul".

He called on the two countries to enhance mutual political support, help each other in their efforts to defend their territorial integrity and security, and step up co-operation on regional and international issues.

"Our two countries share a similar stance on many issues," Xi said at the press conference. "Our two countries will promote a just and fair international order, the peaceful prosperity and stability of the world."

Putin said he was grateful Xi had made his first foreign trip to Russia, and that Sino-Russian relations were a "very important factor" in world politics.

The two sides still have not finalised agreement on a deal which would see Russia supplying the mainland with an annual 68 billion cubic meters of natural gas for 30 years.

Xi said only that there was a "breakthrough" in the negotiations, and that bilateral economic co-operation was wide-ranging and comprehensive.

Meanwhile, Russia's top oil producer Rosneft signed an agreement to provide supplies to China.

En+ Group, parent of the world's top aluminium producer Rusal, said yesterday it had signed a US$2 billion deal with Shenhua Group and China Development Bank to develop coal resources in eastern Russia.

Both countries vowed to boost bilateral trade, which rose 11.2 per cent to a high of US$88.2 billion last year. The target is for US$100 billion of trade by 2015.

Xi will deliver a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations today. He will fly to Tanzania tomorrow before going to South Africa for a summit with other BRICS nations.

 

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