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China's Xi and Russia's Putin vow to enhance ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have pledged to enhance their bilateral cooperation. Several deals covering economic, trade, energy and humanitarian fields have been signed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday signed a joint statement on global security and bilateral cooperation in Shanghai before attending the signing of deals on energy and infrastructure projects.

Putin's office said the statement, which touched on cybersecurity and the crisis in Ukraine, marked a "new stage of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation" between the two countries.

Among other things, the statement, as cited by Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, called on all nations to "give up the language of unilateral sanctions ... and encouraging activity aimed at changing the constitutional system of a foreign country."

Russia has recently been hit by Western sanctions over its seizure of Crimea, while Moscow accuses the West of interfering in Ukrainian affairs by supporting pro-EU elements there.

The statement also urged global rules limiting the use of computer technology to hurt state sovereignty, an apparent reference to efforts by both states to curb the spread of online opposition to their governments.

Putin called for boosting bilateral trade to $100 billion (73 billion euros) by 2015, up from nearly $90 billion last year, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

It is Putin's first visit to China since Xi took office last year.

Broadened cooperation

Putin and Xi also attended the signing of 49 cooperation deals in fields including energy, transport and infrastructure.

It was not clear whether an expected major deal to bring Russian gas to China was among those signed.

But Tuesday did see the signing of another agreement to build a cross-border bridge over the Amur river from north-eastern China into Siberia, according to Russian media. The project will reportedly cost $400 million (292 million euros).

Putin's two-day visit comes as both Russia and China are facing difficulties in their international relations with neighboring countries, with Moscow under fire from the West for allegedly fomenting unrest in Ukraine, while China is involved in several maritime territorial disputes, notably with Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines.

The two leaders were scheduled to launch a week of joint naval exercises in the East China Sea, before attending an Asia security summit in Shanghai, on whose sidelines Putin is expected to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Russia and China are both veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, and have often worked together to counter the United States on a range of issues.

tj/rc (dpa, AFP, AP)

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