Xi hails ‘deepening’ trust between China, Russia in talks with Putin

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that “political mutual trust” between their countries was “continuously deepening”, Beijing's state media reported.

He also called for joint efforts by China and Russia to “safeguard international fairness” and “justice”, state news agency Xinhua said, hailing the “close and effective strategic coordination” between their two countries.

“Bilateral trade volume has reached a historical high, which is progressing toward the goal of 200 billion US dollars set by the two sides,” Xi added.

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The Chinese leader also noted that he had met with Putin “42 times in the past 10 years and (had) developed a good working relationship and a deep friendship”.

Beijing this week hosts representatives of 130 countries for a forum on the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi's vast trade and infrastructure project.

At the top of the guest list is Putin, who is on his first trip to a major global power since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine threw his regime into international isolation.

China is Russia's largest trading partner, with exchange between the nations reaching a record $190 billion last year, Beijing customs data shows.

Beijing has drawn criticism from Western countries for its stance on the Ukraine war, on which China insists it is neutral even as it refuses to criticize Moscow's invasion.

In Beijing, Putin is on a mission to strengthen the already strong bond with his communist neighbor, though experts say Moscow is increasingly the junior partner in the relationship.

The war raging between Israel and Palestinian militant organisation Hamas also looms large over the forum.

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