Chinese leader Xi Jinping is preparing to visit Moscow for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming months, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Citing people familiar with the plan, the newspaper said on Tuesday that the Xi-Putin summit was part of a Chinese effort to play a more active role in bringing the year-old war to an end and part of a push for multi-party peace talks. China will also use the summit to reiterate calls that nuclear weapons should not be used, the report added.
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Preparations for the trip are at an early stage and the timing has not been finalised, the Journal said, adding that Xi’s visit might take place in April or in early May when Russia celebrates its World War Two victory over Nazi Germany.
China’s top diplomat Wang Yi is currently in Moscow and expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday.
In a tour of Europe, Wang has stepped up calls for a negotiated settlement to end the war in Ukraine, which began on February 24 last year when Russian troops invaded the country.
Xi and Putin last met in person in China ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics last year, days before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. The two men announced a “no limits” partnership where no areas of cooperation were “forbidden”. They had a video call last December.
Beijing has not condemned Russia’s actions or joined Western-led sanctions against Moscow but it has urged “restraint” and stressed disputes should be settled by “peaceful means”.
Meanwhile, its relations with the United States have deteriorated over issues such as human rights in Hong Kong and China’s far western region of Xinjiang, as well as the US discovery this month of what it has claimed was a Chinese “spy balloon” flying over its territory.
In Moscow on Tuesday, Wang again stressed the two countries’ close ties in a meeting with Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s powerful Security Council and a close confidant of Putin.
“Chinese-Russian relations are mature in character: they are rock solid and will withstand any test in a changing international situation,” Wang told Patrushev through a Russian interpreter in remarks aired on Russian state television.
Patrushev, meanwhile, told Wang that Beijing was a top priority in Russian foreign policy and that the two countries must stick together.
“In the context of a campaign that is being waged by the collective West to contain both Russia and China, the further deepening of Russian-Chinese cooperation and interaction in the international arena is of particular importance,” Patrushev was quoted as saying by state media outlet RIA.
Wang is expected to discuss Xi’s trip while he is in Moscow, the Wall Street Journal said.
The Kremlin has hinted Wang might also meet Putin.