Russian, Chinese leaders tout growing ties ahead of summit

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese leader Hu Jintao on Thursday praised their increasing economic and diplomatic cooperation ahead of a summit of a regional security body.

Speaking ahead of an annual meeting of the Russia and China-dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Tashkent, the two leaders pledged further cooperation, including the possible transfer of military technology.

China's Hu praised an atmosphere of "mutual understanding" between the two former Cold War antagonists, and said that he was pleased with the "overall trend in Russian-Chinese relations."

Still, the two countries "must work together to achieve an even greater real impact from our cooperation in trade and the economy, energy, military technology, as well as inter-regional cooperation," Hu told reporters.

In a further sign of the growing cooperation between the two regional heavyweights, Medvedev said that the two countries would be in constant contact in order to "synchronize our watches on the international agenda."

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, where heavyweights Russia and China play a major role, meets on Thursday and Friday seeking to lift a moratorium on expansion and open its doors to new members, officials said.

The SCO was set up in 2001 as a security counterweight to NATO that would allow Russia and China to rival US influence in Asia but is increasingly looking to cooperate on economic brass tacks.

Instability in Afghanistan and fragile Kyrgyzstan, where bloody protests toppled President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April, are also expected to top the agenda at the two-day summit in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.

© 2010 AFP

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