China's new President Xi Jinping has arrived in Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. In his first foreign trip as leader, Xi is expected to focus on business and political relations.
The Chinese leader kicked off his three-day visit to Russia on Friday by highlighting the importance of his country's relationship with Moscow, both of which have strong communist ideologies.
"China and Russia are the main and most important strategic partners," Xi told Russian media, adding he was looking forward to officially meeting with the country's president.
"The fact that the new Chinese leader is making his first foreign visit to our country confirms the special nature of a strategic partnership between Russia and China," Putin said, echoing Xi's sentiment.
During his trip, high on Xi's agenda is a deal that would see China become the biggest importer of oil from Russia, the world's top energy producer.
Moscow is looking at diversifying its energy sector away from Europe and is aiming to secure a gas deal which would see 70 billion cubic meters of gas piped to China over the next 30 years.
A spokesperson for Russia's state natural gas company, Gazprom, Sergi Kupriyanov, said it was likely the two would sign some sort of agreement although not a firm contract, over the coming days.
Additionally, Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil consortium is tipped to sign a deal increasing exports to China from the current 15 million tonnes a year.
"China is a strategic market for Rosnef," company chief Igor Sechin told Russian media. "The goal of 50 million (tonnes a year) is not something that's unattainable."
Just before Xi touched down in Moscow, Chinese and Russian companies announced a $2 billion deal to develop coal resources in eastern Siberia.
Putin said of the deal that he wanted "to catch the Chinese wind in our economic sail" and that aspiration, he added, would only grow if China surpassed the US as the world's largest economy.
Over the past few years the two countries have worked at strengthening ties in a bid to counterbalance US global domination.
China and Russia have both vetoed United Nations Security Council resolutions aimed at imposing sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Topics of Syria and North Korea are also expected to be high on today's meeting agenda.
jlw/pfd (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)