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    Russian, Chinese premiers open economic forum in Moscow

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    Visiting Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov are meeting Tuesday to discuss bilateral economic cooperation.

    MOSCOW, November 6 (RIA Novosti) - Visiting Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov are meeting Tuesday to discuss bilateral economic cooperation.

    The two premiers opened a Russian-Chinese economic forum Tuesday morning and will hold a 12th regular prime ministerial meeting in the afternoon. The two officials are also expected to attend a gala at the Kremlin palace to mark the closing of the Year of China in Russia.

    The two premiers will discuss energy cooperation, including the construction of a second reactor at the Tianwan nuclear power plant (NPP).

    For this and other purposes, Zubkov and Jiabao will establish the Russian-Chinese chamber for trade comprising Russian and Chinese exporters and companies seeking to buy Russian products.

    There are also plans to discuss increasing Russian-Chinese trade turnover which, according to targets set by the two countries' leaders, should reach $60 billion by 2010, and could possibly grow to $80 billion. Last year bilateral trade stood at around $29 billion, and already reached $35 billion in the first nine months of 2007.

    But the source said Chinese investment in the Russian economy has yet to pass the $1 billion mark, although there are plans for the figure to reach $12 billion in the next few years. Russia is also seeking to increase investment in the Chinese economy. The country plans to present Russia's investment potential at the EXPO 2010 to be held in Shanghai.

    Joint projects are currently being discussed to build pulp plants in the Chita Region, east Siberia, and the Khabarovsk Territory in Russia's Far East to increase Russian exports of converted timber to China.

    Jiabao said consolidating economic contacts between the two countries' regions was also a priority. He urged the construction of additional terminals on the border and more intense cooperation in the protection of water resources.

    The Chinese prime minister said the two countries were likely to cooperate in arrangements for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. "China has experience, and Russia possesses huge markets," Wen Jiabao said.

    Russian economics minister Elvira Nabiullina said the parties were expected to sign bilateral contracts worth $3 billion at the forum.

    However, Russia and China will not sign a contract for the construction of a Chinese leg of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline from Skovorodino in the Amur Region (Russia's Far East) Tuesday, since no contract has been drafted for today's meeting, a Russian government source said.

    Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said during his visit to China in September that such a contract could be signed at the prime ministerial meeting.

    The source said work was underway to build the ESPO pipeline, with Russian oil supplies to China currently being transported by railway.

    The ambitious East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline is slated to pump up to 1.6 million barrels per day of crude from Siberia to Russia's Far East and then on to China and the Asia-Pacific region.

    Under earlier contracts, Russia will increase rail supplies to China to 15 million metric tons (110 million bbl) of oil annually. China will receive 48.4 million tons (355.7 million bbl) of oil until December 2010.

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