No problems at all with China: Putin
China and Russia on Tuesday appeared to move closer towards narrowing long-persisting differences on a landmark gas deal, even as both countries inked a number of trade agreements and hailed a never-before-seen level of closeness on economic and global issues.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in China on his first foreign trip after announcing he will return to the presidency next year, spoke of the relationship in positive terms following a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday, saying the two countries faced “no problems at all” in their political relationship and had reached “unprecedented levels of cooperation” on economic issues.
Mr. Putin did, however, acknowledge that differences remained over trade ties, and particularly involving a 30-year gas deal which will see Russia supply 68 billion cubic metres annually. Talks, he said, were at a final stage, speaking ahead of his meeting with Mr. Wen here at the Great Hall of the People.
“Those who sell always want to sell at a higher price, while those who buy, want to buy at a lower price,” he said. “We need to reach a compromise which will satisfy both sides.”
On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin held talks with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan over the gas deal. Mr. Sechin indicated the two sides had made some progress, agreeing that Russia would supply no less than 30 bcm through the Altai pipeline with a roadmap to be announced in the next 15 days, according to the Russian RIA Novosti news agency.
Mr. Sechin said the two countries also settled another dispute over oil supplies, agreeing in-principle on overdue debt payments from Chinese companies and a price formula.
Despite the hurdles facing the gas deal, the two sides also signed a number of trade agreements on Tuesday, most notably a $1-billion investment by the China Investment Corporation (CIC) sovereign wealth fund into a joint Russia-China Investment fund.
While Mr. Putin’s visit has been vested with new significance ahead of his return to the presidency, an increasing convergence of interests on the international stage has been seen by analysts in China as giving new momentum to the relationship.
In a commentary on Tuesday, the State-run Xinhua news agency hailed the recent cooperation between the two United Nations Security Council permanent members to veto a draft resolution on intervention in Syria.
“The two nations stood together from time to time to uphold the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation and jointly thwarted several such attempts,” said the commentary, suggesting that Sino-Russian cooperation would benefit “a more balanced world”.