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Russia’s Lavrov, China’s Wang hail cooperation ahead of Putin’s expected visit to Beijing

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Top Russian and Chinese diplomats discussed strengthening their international cooperation at a meeting in Moscow on Monday, ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expected historic visit to Beijing in the coming weeks.

The two countries will continue their “well-coordinated work” at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which opened a new session this week, as well as at other summits and high-level meetings, the Russian minister said of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov in his opening speech to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. .

The meeting – part of Wang’s four-day trip to Russia – came as Chinese Vice President Han Zheng met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York, where both sides “reiterated their commitment to maintaining open lines of communication.” », According to Washington.

That engagement, along with discussions between Wang and U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Malta last weekend, could also pave the way for a meeting between leaders Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in November, when the United States United will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). summit.

The whirlwind of Chinese diplomacy comes as Washington and Beijing seek to stabilize their increasingly contentious relations, but as Chinese leaders also aim to reshape a system of global governance that they say is unfairly dominated by the West – ​​a task for which they view Moscow as a crucial partner. .

During his Monday meeting with Lavrov, Wang said China and Russia should work together to form a “multipolar world,” adding that the two countries bear a “special responsibility” in terms of maintaining stability global strategy and peace.

“In the face of unilateral actions, hegemony and confrontation, China and Russia should… continue to strengthen strategic cooperation… and advance the development of global governance in the direction of greater fairness,” he said. Wang said, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. , using terms that Beijing typically uses to refer to U.S. actions.

Wang also reiterated Beijing’s insistence that Sino-Russian relations are neither directed nor influenced by a third party.

“China and Russia pursue independent foreign policies,” the diplomat said.

The statement appeared to hint at Putin’s expected visit to China next month, with the Chinese ministry quoting Lavrov as saying that Russia would “prepare for upcoming high-level exchanges between the two countries.”

At a summit in Moscow in March, Xi invited Putin to attend a forum expected to be held next month in Beijing. A Kremlin aide said earlier this summer that the Russian leader planned to visit China at that time.

Putin has made few trips abroad since his invasion of Ukraine and the International Criminal Court (ICC) earlier this year issued an arrest warrant for the diplomatically isolated leader for alleged war crimes.

The two leaders’ summit in March, which took place against the backdrop of Russia’s attack in Ukraine, left no doubt about Beijing’s commitment to developing relations with Moscow. This resulted in more than a dozen agreements strengthening cooperation in areas ranging from trade and technology to state propaganda, according to a Kremlin list.

“We are working in difficult conditions as the world experiences tectonic shifts. And it is very important that in March this year our leaders identified clear directions for further deepening our strategic interaction,” Lavrov said during his meeting with Wang on Monday.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has upended the self-proclaimed “no-holds-barred” partnership between the two countries – making Moscow, hobbled by sanctions, increasingly dependent on Beijing as its most powerful economic and diplomatic partner.

China has also tried to present itself as a potential peace mediator and neutral party in the conflict, even though it provides an economic lifeline to Russia and has not called on Moscow to cease its assaults or withdraw its troops. .

In a statement Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov and Wang agreed that Moscow’s interests should be taken into account in resolving the conflict in Ukraine.

“The parties discussed in detail the current situation in Ukraine, emphasizing the futility of attempts to resolve the crisis without taking into account the interests and, above all, without the participation of Russia,” the statement said.

China’s summary only presents its position as “consistently adhering” to the direction of the peace talks and notes its commitment to “play a constructive role” in a “political settlement of the crisis.”

Wang’s arrival in Moscow on Monday follows a closely watched summit last week between Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which the United States fears could lead Pyongyang to supply Moscow with munitions for its war in Ukraine.