Russian patriach holds service on China visit
The Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill on Sunday held a service in Beijing on his first ever visit to Communist-ruled China, during which he called for closer ties between the giant neighbours.
Kirill, dressed in an ornate red and gold robe, held the service for about 300 people in a tent on the grounds of the Russian embassy in Beijing amid tight security, an AFP photographer witnessed.
Chinese exercises strict control over religion, requiring followers to worship in state-approved churches.
In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, the Patriarch vowed to make friendship between China and Russia part of his country's culture, the official Xinhua news agency said.
"Russia and China should understand and support each other in countering challenges," the report quoted him as saying but gave no details.
Once bitter foes during the Cold War, Russia and China have increased cooperation in recent years to counterbalance US global dominance.
Xi, who visited Russia on his first foreign visit after taking office as president in March, said Kirill's trip would deepen mutual understanding, the Xinhua report said.
The ultra-conservative Patriarch Kirill is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
© 2013 AFP