Putin to attend China summits on ‘One Belt’ and BRICS

Participation of Russian president in the two highest-profile events Beijing is hosting this year could herald closer ties between the neighbours

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 February, 2017, 8:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2017, 8:00am

Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend two of the most important diplomatic events China will host this year, a top envoy for Moscow said, in a possible sign of the two nations drawing closer together.

Putin would attend the summit on the “One Belt, One Road” President Xi Jinping would host in May, said Andrei Denisov, the Russian ambassador in Beijing, said on Thursday.

He will join leaders from about 20 countries that State Councillor Yang Jiechi has already said will take part in the discussions, to be held in Beijing.

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Putin would also join the annual BRICS talks, which are being held in Xiamen in Fujian province – Xi’s powerbase – in early September, Denisov said. The bloc of leading emerging economies groups together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

China and Russia have often presented a unified front on the global stage over such issues as the Syria crisis, Iran nuclear deal and North Korea nuclear threat. Since becoming president in 2013, Xi has met Putin more often that any other world leader. But Denisov said cooperation between the two countries was based on mutual interests, rather than ideology.

“The leaders of the two countries will continue to meet this year as frequently as before,” Denisov told a press conference in Beijing.

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Speculation has been growing that ties between the United States and Russia might improve under the administration of Donald Trump, who has said he wanted friendly relations with Putin.

Hopes for a thaw received a boost with the confirmation of Rex Tillerson as US secretary of state. Tillerson developed extensive ties in Russia during his time as head of ExxonMobil, and as Washington’s top envoy has also expressed a desire for smother relationship with Moscow.

“We should not to make any quick judgement over Russia-US relations because we haven’t seen any substantial changes in bilateral ties, even though Trump did have some friendly words about Russia during his campaign,” Denisov said. “The last US administration had been working hard and firmly to deteriorate bilateral ties, so we would be very happy if such negative trend would come to a halt.”

He said Putin and Xi were expected to meet at other occasions this year, including the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation hosted in Kazakhstan in June.