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Chinese vice premier in Russia to strengthen ties, energy cooperation


09:22, June 20, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli arrived here Wednesday to strengthen ties and energy cooperation with Russia, aiming to give a new impetus to the unprecedented high level of relations between the two neighboring giants.

Zhang's visit, a swift follow-up to the successful summit in Moscow between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in March, is designed to translate the latest highest-level consensus into concrete results, with energy cooperation high on the agenda.

During his four-day stay in St. Petersburg, Zhang is expected to witness the signing of one or more agreements between energy companies of the two countries. He is scheduled to meet with Putin, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who co-chairs the China-Russia energy cooperation committee.

Besides contact on the political level, Zhang is also due to meet business leaders of the Russian energy sector.

In a joint statement issued during Xi's visit to Russia, the first stop of his maiden foreign trip as Chinese president, the two countries agreed to push for a new type of relations between major countries in the international arena.

They identified energy as one of the priority areas for future cooperation and vowed to build a solid strategic cooperative relationship on energy by cooperating actively in the fields of oil, natural gas, coal, electricity and new energy.

Energy cooperation between China and Russia holds great potential and has gained steam in recent years as the overall ties between the two countries are in their best shape ever, marked by frequent high-level contacts and expanding economic cooperation.

For China, the world's second largest economy and a major energy consumer, Russia could offer oil and gas it needs to power growth, while for Russia, China would become an ideal export destination for its energy as demand in its main market -- Europe - - wobbles amid economic woes.

The common interests and complementarity set the stage for closer collaboration in energy, with the two countries already in initial deal to increase Russian exports of electricity and natural gas to China and to cooperate in oil-gas exploration and refineries construction.

On Friday, Zhang will take the podium at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an annual gathering of world political and business elite similar to the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

The forum, which lasts from Thursday to Saturday, will provide a unique platform for global leaders to seek solutions to the most pressing issues affecting the world today, including political challenges, the fragility of the global economic recovery, the economic and social fractures emanating from the crisis, the importance of capitalizing on new emerging opportunities and the ongoing shifting power equations, according to its official website.

Zhang will deliver a key-note speech at a plenary session on the world economic and financial situations as well as the economic transformation in China.

In phone talks with Putin on Saturday, Chinese President Xi said China supports Russia in hosting the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, noting that the two sides are actively implementing the important consensus and agreements reached at the March summit.

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