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Zhu Rongji Signs Trade Pacts in Russia

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji is in Moscow on the third day of his Russian visit. He is meeting President Vladimir Putin as well as Russian business leaders. Premier Zhu traveled to Moscow from Russia's second city, St. Petersburg. He and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed seven trade agreements there.

China agreed to buy Russian passenger aircraft and to jointly develop a new jet with Russia. The two also agreed to continue a feasibility study for an oil pipeline from Siberia to China. This $1.7 billion project could double trade between the two neighbors within five years.

On his arrival in Moscow, the Chinese premier was met by Russian President Putin. It was understood that the two would discuss cooperation in nuclear energy, telecommunications, and border issues. Russia's Atomic Ministry says there is a proposal for Russia to construct two nuclear energy plants in China.

Mr. Zhu's visit continues to focus on trade, and he is scheduled to meet with local business leaders and visit Star City, the Russian space center outside Moscow.

There is a strategic element to the visit as well. Mr. Zhu's trip comes two months after Moscow and Beijing signed a historic friendship treaty, calling their nations "strategic partners." Beijing and Moscow are known to be interested in providing a balance to the global influence of the United States, and both oppose Washington's plans for a national missile defense system.