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Putin Meets Possible Next Chinese Leader - 2001-10-28

Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao has met with Russian leaders in Moscow on his first trip to Russia. The man who is expected by some to become China's next president met with President Vladimir Putin and other government officials to talk over trade, economic issues and foreign policy.

Mr. Hu and Mr. Putin discussed the war against terrorism and prospects for a broad-based government to replace the Taleban in Afghanistan.

The two men also stressed their support for the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty. They called it "the cornerstone of preserving strategic stability" in the world.

China and Russia have long voiced opposition to plans by the Bush administration either to amend or to do away with the treaty in order to push forward with a national missile defense system.

At the recent APEC summit in Shanghai, Mr. Putin appeared to show more flexibility on the issue, which will be discussed during his meeting with President George W. Bush next month in the United States.

Later Mr. Hu discussed trade relations between Russia and China in a separate meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. The two men say they want to diversify trade into more high-technology products.

At the moment, most trade between Russia and China involves billions of dollars of mostly cheap Chinese products flowing into Russia across the long border the two countries share.

Mr. Kasyanov says it's time to make this more of a two-way street by building an oil pipeline from Russia that would help meet China's growing energy needs.

The prime minister also says Russia is in a position to help develop China's remote western regions far from Beijing and the south.

Apart from Russia, Mr. Hu is visiting various European countries on a trip that many leaders see as a way to make themselves more familiar with him.

The 59-year-old Chinese Vice-President is expected to replace Jiang Zemin as head of the Chinese Communist Party next year.