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Russian Affairs Analyst, Stephen Dalziel
"It was a relationship that could have been made in heaven"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 July, 2000, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Shared aims at Beijing summit
Putin's first words as President
Putin has yet to develop Yeltsin's close relationship with China
By Russian Affairs analyst, Stephen Dalziel

Russian President, Vladimir Putin's visit to China is expected to focus on increased military and economic co-operation.

Beijing and Moscow have been making very positive noises about the visit in recent days.

Relations between the two countries with the longest land border in the world have not always run smoothly, especially when the Soviet Union existed.

Each accused the other of distorting Communist ideology.

But the collapse of Communism in Russia removed the ideological element from the equation.

Under Boris Yeltsin, pragmatism became the driving force of the relationship.

Both sides acknowledge that it makes more sense for the two giant neighbours to co-operate, especially as they are united in feeling aggrieved by the position of the United States as the world's only superpower.

US missiles

US plans to build an anti-missile defence system have given them a focus for this anger, and Presidents Putin and Jiang are expected to sign a joint statement of condemnation at this meeting.

On the more positive side, their discussions will deal with the very strong trade in weapons from Russia to China.

Mr Putin, in particular, is keen that economic links are strengthened in other areas, too, believing that the two countries have a massive untapped potential for trade.

The two leaders are expected also to discuss the construction of a pipeline to take Russian gas to China from Siberia.

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