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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 12:42 GMT
Russia signs gas deal with China
Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao after the talks in Beijing
China is keen to utilise Russia's energy resources
Russia and China have signed an agreement to pipe large quantities of gas from fields in Siberia to China.

Officials said the pipelines, which could begin supply within five years, would deliver up to 80bn cubic metres of gas annually.

The agreement came as part of a raft of economic deals signed between the two sides during the visit to Beijing of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But there was no deal on a separate pipeline to deliver Siberian oil.

Mr Putin said the two sides had agreed on a deal to supply large quantities of gas through two pipelines from fields in west Siberia and the Russian far east.

Alexei Miller, head of Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, told reporters that the timeframe and the scale of the deal had been agreed with China's oil and gas company, CNPC, but he said the financial details were yet to be negotiated.

Both are keen to reassert themselves as resurgent powers

Mr Putin is heading a 90-member delegation, which includes officials from Russia's oil and gas industries and other economic representatives, for the two-day visit.

The two sides have signed 15 agreements to promote commercial co-operation, including four relating to the energy sector.

But the deal China really wants is an oil pipeline from Siberia, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing, and that remains elusive.

Russia's minister for industry and energy, Viktor Khristenko, said that there could not be further discussion on a timetable until a feasibility study had been completed.

Mr Putin and Mr Hu pledged to pursue stronger ties in the telecommunications and transport sectors.

They also discussed the Iranian nuclear issue and said they were committed to resolving it "through political and diplomatic means", Russia's Itar-Tass news agency said.

China and Russia are co-operating as never before, with China a booming economy hungry for Russian energy resources.

Both sides praised the relationship in the run-up to the visit, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang describing ties as at "a very high level".

China buys billions of dollars of advanced military equipment from Russia and this year the two countries will hold a second round of joint military exercises.

But such ties should not be over-stated, says our correspondent. Last year Sino-Russian trade hit $30bn - just one-tenth of China's trade with the US.

A delegation of US senators is visiting Beijing this week in a bid to persuade China to take further steps to re-evaluate its currency amid concern in Washington that the yuan is artificially undervalued, letting China sell its products more cheaply abroad.


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