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Xi and Putin exhibit their friendship in front of the divisions at the G7 Summit

The two leaders will meet this Saturday in China with senior officials from India, Iran and Pakistan

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Xi and Putin exhibit their friendship in front of the divisions at the G7 Summit

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping Connect, no doubt. The Chinese president is only foreign leader with which Russian head of state has celebrated his birthday, according to Putin himself: "We drank a vodka and sausages," he recalled in an interview with Chinese television this week. This Friday, after a meeting in Beijing, it was turn of Xi of entertain who has called "my best, most intimate friend", giving him first medal of Friendship, a new award with which Beijing will distinguish most appreciated foreigners.

The gesture is symbolic, not only of its personal attunement, but of its growing rapprochement in political chessboard, pushed by erratic American foreign policy. This weekend both are protagonists of summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a forum of Asian countries created by China and attended by leaders such as Iranian head of state, Indian prime Minister or Pakistani president. A clear signal for G7 powers gared meanwhile in Canada.

Xi and Putin have many things in common. Both, skillful political operatives, have just renewed in office for a long season. His style of command is that of a strong man; They share a nationalist perspective; They see mselves and ir systems of government as great alternatives to Western model. The two try to woo some American allies that White House ningunea.

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In six years y have met 25 times; Only in 2017 were seen face to face five times. This time, in addition to ir official meetings, y will share on Saturday a high-speed train trip to get closer to port of Tianjin — a one-hour journey — to watch a hockey game.

It is not just about personal friendship and ideological affinity between se neighbors who share 4,000 kilometers of frontier and a trade of 90 billion dollars annually. To be associated y are driven by economic convergences, geo-strategic interests... and Donald Trump. The decisions of US President — despite Moscow's expectations have not improved ties with Russia and that seems willing to launch a trade war throughout rule against Beijing — have made arrebujarse even more to two not-so-strange companions.

Gradually, y have both parked ir differences over ir respective influences in Central Asia. The two have voted toger at UN against intervention of Western powers in Syria; Moscow has opposed western patrols in international waters of South China Sea, which Beijing considers its own. And y have increased ir military cooperation: to joint maneuvers of last summer in Baltic, in December an exercise of missile defence systems was added.

"No matter how fluctuate international situation, China and Russia have always considered development of ir relationships as a priority," said Xi this Friday at start of his formal meeting at Grand Palace of people.

During ir two days toger, two leaders have plenty of issues to deal with. The SCO summit, Saturday and Sunday in coastal city of Qingdao, will serve to support Iranian Hasan Rohani and launch a strong message of support for nuclear agreement that Trump has forsaken. Both Moscow and Beijing have made it clear that y will continue to cooperate with Tehran, in areas such as nuclear power or finance, despite US veto and threat of sanctions.

Putin, who precedes a state visit his participation in summit, and Xi have also dedicated long and hard in ir contacts to situation on Korean peninsula, four days before highly anticipated meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-UN in Singapore. Both Beijing and Moscow share a position on thawing process in North — gradual denuclearization and lifting of sanctions at an agile pace — and do not want to be left out of negotiations.

"It is a satisfaction that inter-Korean negotiating process that has been initiated follows logic of Russian-Chinese roadmap to resolve conflict," Putin declared in a joint appearance before press with Xi.

Security and fight against Islamic terrorism in Central Asia, where China envisages one of large areas of expansion of its ambitious infrastructure plan known as New Silk Road, is anor axis of two leaders ' bilateral talks and multilateral ones in Forum, which will be attended by Heads of State or Government of main countries of that region.

At its formal meeting, Xi and Putin have signed cooperation agreements, including establishment of a billion-dollar industrial investment Fund and Russian construction of four nuclear power plants on Chinese territory. The two countries also want to stimulate ir business relationship, far removed from official target of 200 billion dollars for 2020.

"The logic of World trade is joint cooperation," Chinese president said. This time, his words were not devoted to his friend. It was a message from both of us to Trump.

Agreements, agreements and more agreements

The agreements signed by two presidents have also been extended to areas of agriculture, technology or aeronautics. If y already cooperate to develop a large and long-haul passenger aircraft, y will also collaborate on space exploration, a sector to which Beijing gives strategic importance.

"It's going to produce a fast neutron reactor. The Chinese lunar program is going to use Russian leading technologies. It is a form of cooperation that we do not have with any or country, y are unique developments of Russian scientists and specialists, "Putin explained.

According to Russian President, volume of bilateral trade grew 31% in first quarter of year. "If we manage to maintain that pace, by end of year we will achieve record we had anticipated in previous years, 100 billion dollars."

The rapprochement between two countries has deepened since 2014, when Russia, faced with West's sanctions for its intervention in Ukraine, took a turn towards its gigantic neighbor in search of demand for its exports.

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