Russia, China, Prepare For Summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin received Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan in the Kremlin on Sunday for a high-profile meeting underlining the growing ties between Moscow and Beijing.

Tang was in Moscow for a foreign ministers' meeting Saturday of the Shanghai Five, comprising Russia, China and three Central Asian countries. He spent Sunday in talks with Russian officials.

Greeting Tang at the Kremlin, Putin said relations between Russia and China had "a very good dynamic."

"This is reflected not only in many meetings at the highest level, but those meetings have their continuation and intensification in contacts between business people, representatives of culture and between all levels of society," Putin said.

Sino-Russian relations have improved dramatically in recent years following decades of Soviet-era rivalry for dominance in the Communist world. Russia and China have declared their opposition to what they describe as a "unipolar world," their term for alleged U.S. global domination.

Putin noted that trade between Russia and China grew 40 percent last year to a record $8 billion. China is the No. 1 customer for Russia's ailing defense industries, purchasing billions of dollars worth of jets, missiles, and ships.

At a news conference, Tang dodged a question about whether Beijing had asked Moscow to sell it more arms in the wake of President Bush's declaration that the United States would do "whatever it took" to defend Taiwan, which China views as a renegade province.

He said only that he and Putin had discussed "the latest moves in American diplomacy."

Tang and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov signed a protocol on a draft treaty on friendship and cooperation that Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin are to sign during Jiang's visit to Moscow in July. The two presidents will also meet in June at a Shanghai Five summit in Shanghai.

"We are unanimous in agreement that this document will play a great role in enriching the relations between our countries in all spheres," Ivanov said. The treaty "will further strategic stability and security around the world," he added.

The Russia-China relationship is not free of tensions, however. A Siberian physicist, Valentin Danilov, was arrested earlier this year for allegedly selling secret research materials to a Chinese company. On Sunday, he was charged with state treason, Russian media reported.

Tang said he was unaware of details of the case.

"But, I can categorically say that no matter what is the reality in this case, it will not affect normal Chinese-Russian relations, including in the scientific and technical field," Tang said.

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