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China, Russia Sign Deals Worth Billions of Dollars

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China and Russia have signed billions of dollars worth of deals during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing.  The trip is aimed at bolstering business, political and military ties.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao greeted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.  The two leaders reviewed Chinese troops before going in to closed-door talks.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu says Mr. Putin came to Beijing to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries

Ma says the Russian leader will also meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao.  The two sides also will sign a joint statement of regular high level meetings between the two countries.

Earlier in the day, Russian officials told reporters Russian and Chinese companies signed $3.5 billion worth of deals Tuesday.

They include a $500 million loan from the Agricultural Bank of China to Russia's second biggest lender, VTB.

Gazprom, Russia's gas export monopoly, also had signed a deal to sell China 70 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year.  Projects to build Gazprom pipelines to China have been delayed because of disagreements over gas pricing.

Russia and China share more than 4,000 kilometers of border.  Official Chinese media say annual trade between the two countries has increased from several billion dollars in the early 1990's to nearly $57 billion in 2008.  China is particularly keen to secure supplies of oil and natural gas to fuel its rapidly expanding industries.

The Russian leader also will attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Wednesday in Beijing.  The regional security group includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

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