Vladimir Putin invites Xi Jinping to visit as Russian and Chinese leaders look to deepen ties
“China is willing to work with Russia to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state and to promote new progress in bilateral relations in the new year,” he was quoted as saying.
The Russian foreign ministry said the conversation “took place in a traditionally friendly atmosphere”.
The two sides discussed a number of bilateral, global and regional issues, and praised their cooperation within the United Nations, BRICS, and other international organisations.
“The officials reaffirmed their intention to reliably defend the sovereignty, security, and development interests of the two countries, and to build together a more just and democratic multipolar world order,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
In addition, as China had lifted quarantine requirements for inbound travellers, face-to-face contacts, mutual tourism, and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries should be restored as soon as possible.
Quoting the Russian foreign ministry, Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported on Monday that Xi’s visit would be “the central event in the bilateral agenda for 2023”.
“This year, Russia and China will join efforts to enhance and promote further bilateral relations between the two governments,” the Russian foreign ministry was quoted as saying.
It noted that China had remained Russia’s biggest trade partner for more than a decade, and was “playing an increasingly important role as a friendly nation in the current circumstances”.
China is yet to confirm the trip. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Tuesday that the two countries maintained close communication at various levels, but she had nothing to say about whether there would be a state visit.
Xi’s last visit to Russia was in 2019 when he held talks with Putin and addressed an economic forum in St Petersburg.
The two leaders then met during the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022, just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Proclaiming that “friendship between the two states has no limits [and] there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation”, they pledged to deepen strategic coordination.
At the time, Moscow and Beijing said the cooperation was neither aimed at third countries nor affected by the changing circumstances in third countries.
Xi last met Putin in September 2022 during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan, where Putin said he understood that Xi had questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine. He also praised China’s “balanced” approach to the war.