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China leader says Russia trip 'far exceeded expectations'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

China's new leader Xi Jinping said Saturday that his first foreign trip as president to Russia had exceeded his expectations and hailed the strong partnership between the two countries.

"From my point of view, my visit has already achieved its aim. The results have far exceeded my expectations," Xi told Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in comments translated into Russian and reported by the ITAR-TASS news agency.

Xi met Medvedev at his suburban residence a day after holding talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and overseeing the signing of a raft of energy and other agreements as part of a three-day visit ending Sunday morning.

The Chinese leader, who arrived in Russia along with much-watched first lady Peng Liyuan, told Medvedev that his choice of Russia for his first foreign visit was "in order to show the special importance of our relations."

His trip came after China this month completed a power handover which will see Xi preside over the world's second-largest economy for the next decade.

Xi said Friday that he and Putin had agreed on a deal that will see Russia, the world's largest energy producer, increase oil supplies to China, the world's biggest energy consumer.

"We can already say this is a historic visit with positive results," Putin said after he and Xi presided over the signing of an agreement between Russian oil company Rosneft and China's state-owned CNPC.

Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom also signed a preliminary agreement paving the way for a future 30-year contract that would see Russia begin sending gas to China in 2018.

The Chinese leader on Saturday hailed Russian-Chinese relations as a guarantee of international peace during a televised speech that was translated into Russian.

"Chinese and Russian relations are some of the most important bilateral relations in the world. Our relations are the best among the bilateral relations between great powers," he told students at the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Once bitter foes during the Cold War, Moscow and Beijing have boosted cooperation in recent years to counterbalance US global dominance.

At the UN Security Council, China and Russia have both vetoed resolutions to impose sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which is locked in a bloody two-year conflict with the opposition.

From Moscow, Xi will travel to Africa to shore up his resource-hungry country's soaring influence on the continent with visits to Tanzania, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130323/china-leader-says-russia-trip-far-exceeded-expectations