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Putin, Chinese President Hold Kremlin Meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with China's new President Xi Jinping, who arrived in Moscow Friday on his first foreign trip since taking the official title last week.

The two leaders met in the Grand Kremlin Palace's ornate St. George Hall. Mr. Putin said he was grateful Mr. Xi had made Russia his first foreign destination as president and called Russian-Chinese relations "a paramount factor of world politics."

Western analysts are framing the visit to Russia as an effort by Beijing to boost shared strategic and business interests. China's official Xinhua news agency says the two countries are expected to strike deals on boosting oil trade and building a natural gas pipeline linking the two countries.

Year-long bilateral talks on a deal under which Russia would provide as much as 68 billion cubic meters of gas annually in a new pipeline have become ensnared in pricing negotiations. At a briefing this week, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said they would sign new oil and gas deals, but he did not provide details.

Guoping also noted the emergence in the past two decades of a "comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination," highlighting the bilateral settlement of historic border disputes that flared with the fall of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago.

The two countries are also closely aligned diplomatically, with Beijing following Moscow's lead on the U.N. Security Council in opposing outside intervention in Syria's bloody civil war.

Russia, in turn, has followed China's lead on North Korea, as the Council presses Pyongyang to end its push for nuclear weapons.

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