Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured China that the relationship between their countries will remain strong even after he steps down as leader next year.

Mr. Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao met on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Sydney Saturday.

The Russian leader said that he and Mr. Hu have achieved the highest level of Russian-Chinese relations, and he said there is no doubt that the strong relations will continue in the coming years.

Russia will hold presidential elections in March of next year. Mr. Putin is not eligible to run for reelection after serving two terms.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.