China, Russia ink deals worth over $7bln
China said Tuesday it had signed trade and economic deals worth more than $7 billion with Russia, ahead of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's planned visit to Beijing.
Putin is due to arrive Tuesday with a 160-member delegation for a two-day trip -- his first foreign visit since he declared a planned Kremlin comeback -- during which he will meet his counterpart Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao.
China's foreign ministry said Tuesday that officials from both countries had already signed 16 agreements worth more than $7 billion "in the fields of technology transfer, research and development and mineral development".
It gave no further details of the deals, which were signed at a summit Monday held ahead of Putin's visit, and attended by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov.
Zhukov told the Kommersant daily that the package includes a $4-billion financial deal, four investment projects with a price tag of $90 million, and five trade projects worth $2.55 billion.
Putin and Wen are due to oversee a signing ceremony after they hold talks later Tuesday, but it is unclear whether new agreements will be signed.
Plans to pump Russian gas to China, meanwhile, are expected to top talks between the two sides. Russia is the world's largest energy producer and China the largest energy consumer.
Russian gas giant Gazprom and China National Petroleum Company signed a framework agreement in 2009 that could eventually see almost 70 billion cubic metres of Russian gas sent to China annually for the next 30 years.
However, talks have become bogged down in pricing disagreements. Hu's visit to Moscow in June delivered no breakthrough, and Chinese state media said this trip was also unlikely to yield a firm, final contract.
© 2011 AFP