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Putin, Xi to discuss Ukrainian crisis, development of bilateral ties

Priority attention will be focused on trade and economic cooperation

BEIJING, May 16. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in China on his first foreign visit after being re-elected and sworn into office. On Thursday, May 16, he will stay in the Chinese capital city of Beijing and will travel to Harbin on May 17.

Special chemistry

In accordance with the diplomatic protocol, a state visit is considered as the highest in status among other foreign visits.

As is known, Moscow and Beijing have relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation. Moreover, the two leaders, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping maintain personal friendly ties.

On May 16, Putin will meet with Xi for the first time this year. However, they had a phone call on February 8. It is quite symbolic that Putin has chosen China as the first foreign destination after his reelection, although he has a dozen more invitations from various other countries both in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Yury Ushakov, the presidential foreign policy aide, said that China was not randomly chosen for the president’s first foreign trip, but as a response to a similar gesture of friendship made by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited Russia last year ten days after his reelection.

According to Ushakov, this tradition of exchanging first visits vividly demonstrates the high level of bilateral relations and priority attention paid to the Russian-Chinese partnership by both sides. "This, of course, also reflects the personal chemistry between the two leaders of our states," the official said.

The Chinese foreign ministry recalled that the Russian president’s visit coincides with the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin, Beijing attaches great significance to Putin and Xi’s diplomatic strategic leadership in the formation of bilateral ties. "The two heads of state agreed to continue maintaining close ties so that Chinese-Russian relations could continue developing successfully and stably," he said.

Representative delegation

The Russian president will be accompanied by a representative delegation, which includes nearly the entire new cabinet, dozens of governors and top executives of big businesses.

Members of the delegation are: First Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, Deputy Prime Ministers Dmitry Chernyshenko, Alexander Novak, Yury Trutnev, Tatiana Golikova, Vitaly Savelyev; Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina, Finance Minister Annton Siluanov, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov, head of the Financial Monitoring Agency Yury Chikhanchin, Minister of Natural Resources Alexander Kozlov; Russian Railways CEO Oleg Belozerov, Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachev; head of the Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation Dmitry Shugayev, Roscosmos CEO Yury Borisov; deputy heads of the presidential administration Maxim Oreshkin and Dmitry Peskov, presidential aide Yury Ushakov; Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Andrey Belousov, Russian Security Council Secretary Sergey Shoigu; co-chairman of the Russian-Chinese friendship committee and businessmen’s rights ombudsman Boris Titov, head of the Russian-Chinese Business Council and co-owner of Volga Group Gennady Timchenko; Sberbank President and board chairman Herman Gref, Oleg Derpaska, Director General of the Russian Direct Investment Fund Kirill Dmitriev, VTB President Andrey Kostin, Rosmano and Novatek board chairmen Sergey Kulikov and Leonid Mikhelson, head of Business Russia Alexey Repik, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin, and VEB chairman Igor Shuvalov.

Beijing tea party

The central topic is expected to be the Ukrainian crisis. It will be the focus of an informal meeting between the two leaders after the official talks on May 16. According to Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov, Putin and Xi will speak tete-a-tete, then have a stroll in a park and drink tea. "The most important part is a stroll and a tea-party," Ushakov said, adding that much significance in China is attached to tea ceremonies.

The tea party will be followed by an informal dinner in the 1+4 format from both sides. Putin will be joined by Foreign Minster Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Andrey Belousov, Security Council Secretary Sergey Shoigu, and presidential aide Yury Ushakov.

Major attention during the dinner will be paid to Ukraine. According to Ushakov, "Moscow values Beijing’s well-balanced position on the Ukrainian crisis."

All the informal events will be held behind closed door, with no time limit set for them.

Partnership resistant to any challenges

The program of the visit is quite busy. After the official welcoming ceremony and a photo session, Putin and Xi will first speak one-on-one and then will be joined by their delegations.

Priority attention will be focused on trade and economic cooperation. The leaders will discuss the current state of and prospects for further development of bilateral cooperation in various spheres.

They will exchange views on issues of cooperation within various international organizations and structures, including the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Putin and Xi will discuss issues of linking integration processes within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the One Belt One Road Chinese initiative, as well as regional problems, such as the situation in and around Ukraine, in the Middle East, in Central and Northeastern Asia, and in the Asia Pacific region in general. The Russian leader will hand over to his Chinese counterpart an invitation to visit the BRICS summit in Kazan.

The talks will be followed by the ceremony of signing bilateral documents. Putin and Xi will put their signatures under the joint statement on deepening relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation in the new era in the context of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In all, it is planned to sign 11 intergovernmental documents in their presence. Apart from that, a large package of other agreements and documents, including commercial ones, will be signed.

While in Beijing, Putin will meet with Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Qiang, take part in the wreath laying ceremony at the Monument to the People's Heroes in Tiananmen Square, and together with Xi he will visit a gala concert on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the opening of the Year of Russian Culture in China.