Russia, China Proclaim Unity Before Xi Visit

Russia and China said on Friday they saw eye-to-eye on all the world's problems including the Syria conflict, as the Chinese foreign minister was in Moscow to prepare a visit by new leader Xi Jinping later this year.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi confirmed after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that Communist Party chief and president in-waiting Xi would visit Russia after he is confirmed as head of state in March to succeed Hu Jintao.

Yang did not directly confirm Chinese reports that Russia would be Xi's first foreign destination after taking the office of president at a session of the National People?s Congress (NPC) next month, in what would be a hugely significant step.

But he made clear that Xi would be attending the BRICS summit of the world's top five developing economies in Durban from March 26-27 alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia and China have stood shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the two-year conflict in Syria, with Beijing joining its fellow permanent UN Security Council member Moscow in vetoing resolutions that would have introduced sanctions against Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"Russia and China have united positions, and promote these united positions in negotiations, on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, including the Syrian crisis, Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear programme and other crises," Lavrov said at a news conference alongside Yang.

"On all these cases, we and our Chinese friends are led by one and the same principle the necessity to observe international law, respect UN procedures and not allow interference from outside in domestic conflicts and all the more the use of force," added Lavrov.

Fully developing ties with its booming neighbour has become a major priority for Putin's Kremlin at a time of difficult relations with the West and as state gas firm Gazprom and other Russian firms seek new markets for exports.

Yang, who held a closed-door meeting with Putin the day earlier, said that the two countries' bilateral relations were of huge importance for the world as a whole.

"We believe together that Russia-China relations do not just have major importance for our countries but have an influence on ensuring peace and development on the planet as a whole."

The 2013 BRICS summit will bring together the leaders of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa for the first time on the African continent, a region where Beijing's influence has greatly increased over the last years.

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