MOSCOW — Chinese President Xi Jinping met Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Russia, where the two leaders heaped praise on the relationship between their countries amid growing tensions with the United States.
“I have had closer interactions with President Putin than with any other foreign colleagues. He is my best and bosom friend,” Xi told Russian state news agency Tass ahead of his three-day trip to Russia. After meeting with Putin on Wednesday, Xi will attend a glitzy economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia’s answer to Davos.
Both countries are locked in economic battles with the United States. For China, a trade war with Washington continues to rage, and neither President Trump’s administration nor Beijing is showing any signs of letting up.
Russia’s economy has been affected by several rounds of sanctions, imposed by the United States and Europe over a range of issues, from election meddling to the war in Syria to the alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.
Ahead of their closed-door meeting in the Russian capital Wednesday, Putin said relations between the erstwhile Cold War foes had “without any exaggeration, reached an unprecedented level.”
Putin and Xi, whose talks Wednesday marked the 29th time the two have met since 2013, will discuss a number of issues this week, according to the Kremlin, including relations with the United States, the situation in Venezuela, Iran and the Korean Peninsula in the wake of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s first visit to Russia, which took place in April.
Though Russia has little economic heft when compared with the United States, the two leaders are also expected to discuss Russia’s energy exports to China, analysts said.
They will also visit Moscow’s main zoo, where two pandas gifted earlier this year by China are expected to be unveiled. Then, Putin and Xi will head to the Bolshoi Theater for an evening performance.