Moscow, Beijing make political partnership breakthrough - Putin

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"Our relations are not only a factor of geopolitical stability. They also set an example of open international partnership which is not aimed against third countries and which promotes a more just world order," Vladimir Putin said at the opening ceremony of the Year of Russia in China.

BEIJING, March 21 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow and Beijing have achieved a real progress in political ties that have now evolved into a genuine partnership, the Russian president said Tuesday.

"Our relations are not only a factor of geopolitical stability. They also set an example of open international partnership which is not aimed against third countries and which promotes a more just world order," Vladimir Putin said at the opening ceremony of the Year of Russia in China. The program of events aims to diversify trade, boost partnership, and investment and regional cooperation.

Putin, who arrived in Beijing on a two-day visit Tuesday, said that despite historical upheavals, the people of Russia and China had managed to preserve warm relations and were ready to foster mutually advantageous bilateral ties.

The two countries signed a Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation in 2001, which put an end to a long-running territorial dispute that boiled over into fighting in the late 1960s.

However, Putin's comments in the Chinese capital echoed the new spirit in contacts.

"Our relations seek to increase the role and influence of Russia and China in international affairs," he said, adding that economic growth in the two countries above all affected the dynamics of economic cooperation.

Presently, energy cooperation dominates relations between energy-rich Russia and China, whose vibrant economy desperately needs energy supplies. Russian oil supplies account for 5% of China's energy imports and Putin announced earlier today that the country would be ready to export an annual 80 million cubic meters of natural gas within the next five years.

Putin also said that Russia would present its economic achievements at fairs in Harbin, Changchun and Shanghai, and the relevant goals would be discussed at a Russian-Chinese economic forum set to open in Beijing Wednesday. The meeting is set to focus on at least doubling the current level of trade at $29.1 billion and potentially even increasing it to $80 billion by 2010.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao said he agreed with Putin that the Year of Russia in China and the subsequent Year of China in Russia would make a significant contribution to bilateral relations.

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