RUSSIAN-CHINESE TRADE TO REACH $20 BN BY YEAR END

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MOSCOW, September 17 (RIA Novosti) - By the end of 2004, the volume of Russian-Chinese trade will almost reach a record mark of $20 billion, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti in connection with the forthcoming visit to Russia by Chinese State Council Premier Wen Jiabao, to take place on September 23-25.

"For recent years, Russian-Chinese cooperation has been successfully developing in general. In the first six months of 2004, the rates of growth of reciprocal trade increased. Its volume reached $9.45 billion, which is 39.1% more than in the same period last year. This gives grounds to forecast that by the end of this year, Russian-Chinese trade will become close to the record mark of $20 billion," said Mr. Yakovenko.

He noted that for the recent time, scientific-technical and innovation cooperation between Russia and China has been developing successfully.

In Mr. Yakovenko's opinion, oil and gas cooperation should be expanded.

"Bilateral interbank cooperation has developed actively lately, which opened prospects for activation of interaction of Russian and Chinese banks while servicing bilateral investment projects," said Mr. Yakovenko.

He specially pointed out to a considerable headway in the humanitarian sphere, "which refers to system-forming components of the whole complex of Russian-Chinese relations."

At the same time, in the opinion of the Foreign Ministry spokesman, the two sides "should speed up the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on the establishment of a Russian science and culture center in China and a Chinese cultural center in Russia."

Mr. Yakovenko said that anti-terror cooperation under the UN aegis, as well as within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, is important.

"Russia highly values assistance provided by China in the wake of the tragic events in Beslan," said the spokesman.

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