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Xi, Putin meet as US tensions brings them closer

AFP  |  Beijing 

Chinese treated Russian counterpart to a state visit today as the neighbouring giants forge closer ties in the face of US diplomatic and economic challenges.

Putin, re-elected to his fourth Kremlin term in March, arrived at the grandiose of the People in for talks with Xi, who could stay in power for life after term limits were lifted this year.

The two heads of state reviewed a and greeted flag-waving children during the welcoming ceremony before retreating into the vast building.

The most powerful Russian and Chinese leaders in decades, Xi and have built closer ties while US has labelled both countries as economic rivals that challenge US interests and values.

Xi and are "soulmates who want to make their countries great again", Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the Carnegie Center, told AFP.

"Both share scepticism towards American hegemony and distrust US intentions, both are authoritarian personalistic rulers," he said.

is mired in tough negotiations with the to avoid a trade war, while has deep differences with on multiple diplomatic fronts, including and

Putin played up his bond with his "good friend" Xi in an interview with China's state broadcaster CGTN this week.

He said the Chinese was the only to celebrate his birthday with him, with the two sharing vodka and sausage.

Xi "is approachable and sincere", Putin told CGTN. "But he's also a very dependable man to work with." Maria Repnikova, of the at in the US, said makes

look "stronger and more relevant" on the global stage.

For its part, allows to show the US that it has "other options" in international negotiations, she said.

"Trump's policies justified (the) growing closeness, especially for but also for China given the volatile relationship with the United States," Repnikova told AFP.

But, she said "it's an asymmetrical relationship with Russia more dependent on China than vice versa, especially in the economic sphere".

After the visit, Putin will join Xi at a weekend summit of the (SCO) in the eastern Chinese city of

China and Russia lead the regional security group, which includes former Soviet states and new members and

Putin told CGTN that the SCO had "small" objectives when it was founded two decades ago but that it was now evolving into a larger global force.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose country is an observer member of the SCO, will also attend the summit at a time when China and Russia are seeking to save the nuclear deal following from the pact.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, June 08 2018. 14:40 IST