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MOSCOW, May 29. /TASS/. Russia and China are moving towards forming a continental partnership that will include co-operation on Beijing's Silk Road East-West trading route alongside the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said on Friday.
"Starting from 2010, China has asserted itself as Russia’s leading trade partner," Morgulov told an international conference in Moscow, adding that he hoped this trend would continue.
He noted also that participants in the conference, entitled Russia and China: New Partnership in a Changing World, spoke of plans to combine Eurasian economic integration and Beijing's initiative to create a modern Silk Road.
"This is an extremely important prospect for future co-operation," he said.
Morgulov recalled that the leaders of Russia and China on May 8 signed a joint statement on strengthening the Sino-Russian partnership. "This is a big step towards combining the two major initiatives and towards combining our forces along the strategic path," he said.
"The decision to start talks between the Eurasian Economic Union and China to conclude an agreement on trade and economic co-operation has already become the first step in this direction," the diplomat said. "We are talking in fact about forming a kind of a continental Eurasian partnership which would include countries of the Eurasian Economic Union and China," he said.
Morgulov also pointed to the key role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in establishing such partnership and thanked the Chinese leadership for supporting Russia’s priorities for presidency of the security grouping comprising Russia, China and the Central Asian former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The new Russia-led political and economic bloc - the Eurasian Economic Union - started operating in January, replacing the Eurasian Economic Community, which officially ceased to exist in October. The union includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
The treaty was signed by the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus in May last year. It establishes a union ensuring free movement of goods, services, capital and labour, and binds its member states to conduct co-ordinated or common policy in economic sectors.
China’s integration project aims to revive the ancient Silk Road and build a transport, energy and trade corridor between Europe and Asia.