Russian President Vladimir Putin presented Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping with a giant box of ice cream for his 66th birthday on Saturday, telling Xi he was “delighted to have a friend like you.”
Putin presented Xi with the sugary gift before the two convened at a summit in Tajikistan on Saturday, where they both attended the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), involving 27 countries including Iran and Qatar.
“Our whole team and I can even say our whole nation, wishes you all the best in the world because you do a lot for the development of relations between our two countries,” Putin told Xi, according to the Kremlin. “Happy birthday, my best wishes … I am delighted to have a friend like you.”
— RT (@RT_com) June 17, 2019
The meeting in Tajikistan came days after Xi traveled to Russia for a three-day meeting with Putin and other senior regime officials, where the two sides signed a series of trade deals and Xi provided two new pandas for the Moscow Zoo. At a press conference during the visit, Xi claimed he had developed a “deep personal friendship” with his Russian counterpart.
“In the past six years, we have met nearly 30 times. Russia is the country that I have visited the most times, and President Putin is my best friend and colleague,” said Xi.
Putin echoed the sentiment, declaring that “Russian-Chinese relations have reached an unprecedented level [of] global partnership and strategic cooperation.”
As noted by the South China Morning Post, the warmness between the two countries may represent a strategic alliance against the United States, as the White House steps up its trade war against China and sanctions on Russia.
In two separate documents signed by the two leaders, the two countries agreed to a “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era” covering a wide range of spheres including space, the Arctic, the internet, and innovation.
In the second document, they also asserted their commitment to “reinforcing global strategic stability” by maintaining a common approach to global issues such as U.S. tensions with Iran, the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and the denuclearization of North Korea.
“It seems clear that Russia and China will continue to develop their relationship in the face of their increasing alienation from the US-dominated global order,” notes the Post‘s Danil Bochkov. “Their relationship in the “new era” will not only be defined by the cooperation in areas such as cutting-edge technology, space, security, and global governance but also increased efforts to galvanize trade and investment as the bedrock for deeper ties in future.”