Pipeline politics top Hu-Putin meet

Chinese president Hu Jintao has arrived in Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and oil and gas deals are expected to dominate the discussions. Hu’s three-day visit “aims to strengthen political trust and push forward the economic and trade partnership,” Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui told reporters. “Energy is an extremely important constituent of relations and cooperation between China and Russia,” Li emphasized. China has imported increasing volumes of Russian oil by rail in recent years, and hopes this will be an interim measure pending completion of a pipeline linking China to Russia’s far east. Russia also plans to pipe 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually through a pipeline that runs to China’s far western region of Xinkiang, said Russia’s ambassador to China Sergei Razov. By 2011, Russian natural gas is slated flow through two pipelines in Xinkiang and a second route to northeastern China, he said.

Putin and Hu will also discuss the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the security-led forum that groups China, Russia and four Central Asian nations, Li said, adding that a joint military drill planned by SCO nations in Russia this year is “aimed at increasing collaboration to fight terrorism in the region.” (DPA, March 27)

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