Chinese president Hu Jintao and Russian president Vladimir Putin, meeting in Moscow, are urging North Korea not to develop nuclear weapons. Brian Purchia reports.

In a joint statement issued at the end of Tuesday?s talks in the Kremlin, the presidents said the preservation of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula is in the common interests of the international community. VOA's Lisa McAdams reports from Moscow that the two leaders also discussed Iraq.

?President Putin and President Hu pledged more aid for the Iraqi people. They also reiterated their desire for the United Nations to play the central role in rebuilding Iraq, saying that only then will the lawful rights of other nations be taken into account.?

China and Russia among other countries have claims worth billions of dollars with the ousted Iraqi regime.

Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed with his Russian counterpart that maintaining bilateral ties is critical.

?We have just agreed with Vladimir Putin that we will continue to develop and strengthen the historic Sino-Russian relations in all spheres of life by adjusting ourselves to the changes and developments that are happening in the world."

Russian officials say the two leaders discussed other issues, including trade and economic cooperation, the spread of SARS and a project to build an oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to the Chinese city of Daqing.

Chinese President Hu is expected to follow a course set by his predecessor Jiang Zemin to improve relations with Russia. In 2001, Moscow and Beijing signed a friendship treaty, the first such document since 1950, when Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong created a Soviet-Chinese alliance.

This is Mr. Hu's first trip abroad since becoming head of state. The Chinese leader says he chose to visit Russia first to underscore how important he views relations with Moscow.