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Duncan Hewitt reports for BBC News
"Boris Yeltsin looked frail"
 real 28k

Thursday, 9 December, 1999, 13:30 GMT
China and Russia sign border pact

President Yeltsin is welcomed in China Getting on famously: China and Russia are forging links

Russia and China have signed two border agreements as part of a two day official visit by President Boris Yeltsin, aimed at cementing strategic ties between the two states.

The agreements, which establish protocols along the eastern and western parts of their 4,000km (2,400 miles) border, also include a deal to encourage economic development of the Amur and Heilongjiang border rivers.

The signing came as China publicly backed Russia in the face of Western condemnation over the bombardment of Chechnya and Moscow's "get out or die" ultimatum to residents of the breakaway republic's capital, Grozny.

President Yeltsin also used the trip to publicly warn US President Bill Clinton not to interfere in the Chechen offensive.

Mr Yeltsin's wife helps him leave his official plane Unwell: Mr Yeltsin left hospital on Monday
Welcoming the agreement, Russia's foreign minister Igor Ivanov said the resolution of the border problem was very important for the development of the two nation's political and economic relationship.

President Yeltsin, who had checked himself out of hospital on Monday where he had been receiving treatment for pneumonia, began his official visit by meeting China's President Jiang Zemin and the Prime Minister Zhu Rongji.

Reports say that Mr Yeltsin had appeared pale and puffy but smiled broadly as he met Chinese officials.

In a later meeting, Mr Yeltsin and the speaker of China's parliament Li Peng reaffirmed Sino-Russian opposition to America's proposed national missile defence programme, a system which both states say would not only break the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty - but would also destabilise the Pacific region.

"The two sides had a common stance on the anti-missile defence program," said Mr Ivanov.

"Russia and China agreed to safeguard non-proliferation treaties and maintain the global strategic balance.

"If the US is trying to destroy this system, then it will have an important impact on world politics and will lead to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

President Yeltsin and President Jiang are scheduled to discuss international affairs, the future of their growing strategic partnership and will issue a joint political statement before the Russian party leaves on Friday.

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See also:
09 Dec 99 |  Europe
Russia and China: Friendship of convenience?
09 Dec 99 |  Europe
Yeltsin seeks Chechnya support in China
09 Dec 99 |  Europe
'Don't interfere' Yeltsin warns Clinton
06 Dec 99 |  Europe
Analysis: Yeltsin's busy foreign diary

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