Russia's Medvedev says ties with China at 'highest point'

28th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that Sino-Russian ties had reached their "highest point" ever as he wrapped up a state visit to China with a tour of the World Expo in Shanghai.

Medvedev arrived in China's financial hub from Beijing, where he met President Hu Jintao and other leaders for talks focused on his country's crucial energy cooperation with Beijing.

The two sides -- once bitter foes during the Cold War -- celebrated the completion of a long-awaited cross-border oil pipeline linking Russia, the world's biggest oil producer, with China, the largest energy consumer.

"Relations between Russia and China are at their highest point now. We are truly strategic partners," Medvedev said at a ceremony launching Russia Day at the massive Expo, a showcase of world culture and technology that began May 1.

"The very fact of visiting the exhibition is another demonstration of friendship between Russia and China," he said, adding the event showed that both countries were serious about pressing ahead with economic modernisation.

"Innovations are a choice for our country," he said.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, Medvedev's host for the day in Shanghai, said the two countries were "good neighbours", adding that it was the "best period in history" for Sino-Russian relations.

Medvedev and Xi -- considered by many to be Hu's heir apparent -- visited both the Chinese and Russian pavilions at the Expo and held talks.

The Kremlin is keen to copy Beijing's recipe for economic success and modernisation -- a buzz word in Medvedev's Russia -- and the Russia president said he had discussed the issue with Hu.

Medvedev said Hu had told him that Chinese investors were keen to be part of the building of a future innovation centre just outside Moscow, the Russian leader's pet project.

"I am sure there are good prospects in this regard," he told reporters.

Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire whom Medvedev has put in charge of the project, said Russian and Chinese companies were in talks over possible opportunities to collaborate on the centre, but no firm deals had been signed.

"We are working on it, establishing ties and contacts," he said.

So far, energy accounts for the bulk of Sino-Russian cooperation.

According to the Kremlin, the oil Russia will send to its neighbour over the next 20 years will be worth 150 billion dollars.

The countries are still finalising a deal that could see 70 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas sent to China each year, and have also announced plans to jointly build a five-billion-dollar oil refinery in northern China.

Medvedev began his trip to China in the northeast city of Dalian, where he paid tribute to Soviet-era soldiers who died defending the port from Japanese invaders and said the ties between the two countries were "sealed by blood."

"Dalian is the history of our ties. Beijing is the present... and in Shanghai, we are looking at the future," Medvedev said before heading back to Russia.

© 2010 AFP

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