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    China for broader cooperation with Russia - foreign minister

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    China is optimistic about trade and economic relations with Russia and anti-terrorism cooperation within a major regional security organization, the Chinese foreign minister said Monday.

    BEIJING, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - China is optimistic about trade and economic relations with Russia and anti-terrorism cooperation within a major regional security organization, the Chinese foreign minister said Monday.

    Speaking about relations with Russia prior to President Vladimir Putin's arrival in Beijing on a two-day trip Tuesday, Li Zhaoxing said, "Russia, in terms of the growth rates of trade with China, has confidently taken first place among our country's 10 main trade partners."

    The minister said bilateral trade had been growing at a consistently high rate - over 30% - for seven years. Russia is a major supplier of crude to its energy-hungry neighbor, whereas China is a source of cheap electronics and clothes.

    "Moreover, a new record was registered in 2005: trade totaled $29.1 billion, a 37.1% increase on 2004," the minister added.

    Putin said earlier in an interview with China's Xinhua News agency that Russia's trade and economic relations with China enjoyed positive dynamics with constantly developing cooperation in the investment sector and in high-technology.

    "Russian-Chinese relations have the most favorable prospects in all areas," Putin said. "We will continue to make every effort to ensure they develop consistently and progressively."

    The Chinese minister said the qualitative changes in the economic cooperation between the two countries would create favorable conditions to increase the trade to $60-80 billion by 2010, an objective set by the leaderships of the two countries.

    Touching upon joint efforts to counter terrorism, Zhaoxing said cooperation with Russia had to be developed within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security and economic forum founded in Shanghai in July 2001 with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

    "One of the SCO's main aims is to increase security cooperation and to establish favorable and stable conditions for social and economic development," Zhaoxing said.

    Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said earlier this month that Russia and China planned to hold joint counterterrorism training exercises in spring 2007 in Russia's Southern Federal District.

    However, the Chinese foreign minister said Chinese and Russian relations were not aimed against any third countries, adding that the two countries, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, were responsible for ensuring stability and peace in the world.

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