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    Chinese president counts on closer ties with Russia

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    Chinese-Russian relations have reached an unprecedented level, Chinese leader Hu Jintao said Tuesday. The president of the People's Republic of China said his country and Russia were ready to make efforts in four main areas.

    BEIJING, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - Chinese-Russian relations have reached an unprecedented level, Chinese leader Hu Jintao said Tuesday.

    Hu Jintao will pay an official visit to Russia March 26-28, the Kremlin press service said Monday. Jintao will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the two leaders will participate in a ceremony to open Year of China in Russia and a Chinese exhibition.

    The president of the People's Republic of China said his country and Russia were ready to make efforts in four main areas.

    Hu Jintao said: "Firstly, we should strengthen political trust and continue to support issues of key interest to the two countries."

    The Chinese leader said measures to boost practical cooperation in the economic, energy, technological and other sectors should come next.

    Thirdly, Russia and China "should expand exchange programs and humanitarian cooperation and enhance understanding and friendship between the two countries and nations taking advantage of the Year of China in Russia," Jintao said.

    Finally, the Chinese leader said, "our countries should activate strategic cooperation in international and regional affairs and contribute to a guarantee for peace and assist in general assistance."

    "I am sure that further progress in Russian-Chinese partnership and strategic cooperation will benefit the two nations and people in other countries," Jintao said.

    He praised the growth of the Chinese and Russian economies and said he expected a positive future for bilateral economic ties.

    Jintao described the development of energy resources, aviation, space, nuclear energy, mechanical engineering and high technologies as priorities for bilateral cooperation.

    "In addition, many Chinese companies have shown an interest in cooperation with Russia in such spheres as electronics, car production and assembly, infrastructure development and projects to establish special economic zones," the Chinese leader told the Russian press.

    "In turn, our government is encouraging and supporting China's leading enterprises, which are keen to establish mutually advantageous contacts with Russian partners," Jintao said. "We also rely on Russia to improve its investment climate and give more access to its markets," he said.

    The Chinese president said that bilateral trade had been on the rise for the last eight years, and totaled a record high of $33.4 billion last year.

    Jintao described bilateral economic partnership as "having interdependence and great potential" and said he was hopeful that the two countries would make efforts "to achieve the goal of raising bilateral trade to $60 billion-$80 billion by 2010."

    "China appreciates the increase in investment and the arrival of Russian companies," the Chinese leader said.

    Jintao also said that Russian companies had been investing actively in China, and "since late 2006, Russian investment in China exceeded $600 million."

    He pledged that his government would continue policies to attract foreign capital. "The Chinese government will pursue the basic policy of expanding international contacts," Jintao said.

    The Chinese president said: "In the 29 years of reform 590,000 companies have been established with foreign investment, and almost $700 billion worth of foreign capital has already been attracted."

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