06/18/2009, 00.00
CHINA – RUSSIA

Beijing and Moscow urge Pyongyang to go back to the negotiating table

Both countries express “serious concern” over escalating tensions in Korea. The economy, currency, trade and bilateral cooperation were discussed during President Hu’s visit. The two powers want to take on greater responsibilities to offset US dominance.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese President Hu Jintao today ended his visit to Russia where he discussed the economy, finances and cooperation with his Russian hosts. The leaders of both nations urged North Korea to return to nuclear talks.

After meetings at the Kremlin, President Hu and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed “serious concern” about tensions on the Korean peninsula after North Korea again pulled out of talks and began testing its nuclear-capable missiles.

Both leaders called for “the continuation of efforts by all sides to resolve disagreements through peaceful means, through dialogue and consultations.” 

Although no new initiative was announced, the demand is important because both Russia and China have usually protected North Korea’s interests in the Security Council by using their veto on more punitive sanctions. 

Their joint appeal signals growing impatience over North Korea’s escalation and its decision to conduct a second nuclear test on 25 May in defiance of the United Nations and its preparation to test a missile capable of striking the United States.

Both countries border North Korea and Beijing has been Pyongyang’s main political ally and trading partner. Its support is crucial if new sanctions by the United Nations are to be effective. For its part Moscow backed the Communist nation during the Cold War.

Hu yesterday also met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The two leaders reiterated their commitment to develop “a practical co-operation in every sphere” and this despite the current economic crisis. Both men also stressed the special importance of Sino-Russian “strategic relations” in a changing world.

Earlier this week Russia and China took part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, which includes Central Asian nations. Their leaders also joined the prime minister of India and the president of Brazil in a summit among the four most important emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

Leaders in the two capitals of Moscow and Beijing are in fact actively pursuing a multipolar world that challenges US dominance.

Hu and Medvedev agreed to expand the use of the rouble and yuan in bilateral trade to lessen dependence on the US dollar.

Russia, the world’s biggest energy supplier, wants to start selling oil to China in roubles, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said.

Last year bilateral trade volume rose by 38.6 per cent to reach US$ 55.9 billion. This year it fell 39.2 per cent year on year to US$ 13.5 billion in the first five months.

In February, Russia signed its biggest-ever energy deal to supply China with crude oil for 20 years in return for US$ 25 billion in loans.

Two pipelines are also being planned to export gas from Russia to China.

After his visit to Russia Mr Hu left today for a state visit to Slovakia, then heads to Croatia tomorrow.

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