Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were due to hold formal talks on Tuesday against a backdrop of mounting tensions over North Korea ahead of G20 Summit talks with Donald Trump. The meeting in Moscow comes as North Korea claimed the launch of its first inter-continental ballistic missile, and US President Trump urged China to “end this nonsense once and for all”.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported Putin and Xi “agreed to jointly push for a proper settlement of the peninsula issue via dialogue and negotiation” at a closed Kremlin meeting last evening on the eve of the official talks. Beijing — North Korea’s closest diplomatic ally — and Moscow have called repeatedly for calm on all sides, but Trump has warned Washington’s patience with Pyongyang is nearing an end.
Xi and Putin once again slammed the US THAAD missile system installed in South Korea to protect against the North, Xinhua said. Both leaders argue that it threatens the strategic balance in the region. The Kremlin gave no details on what was discussed at the “informal” tete-a-tete Monday.
While the lastest tensions over North Korea figured high on the agenda the main focus of the Putin-Xi meeting was set to remain boosting growing trade and political ties between the two increasingly close partners. The giant neighbours are expected to oversee the inking of a raft of deals worth billions of dollars as Moscow continues a pivot towards China it has ramped up since ties with the West slumped over Ukraine.
Ahead of his arrival in Moscow Xi said that relations with Russia were currently enjoying their “best time in history” as he and Putin have struck up a close relationship. The Kremlin strongman is set to present Xi with a prestigious Russian state award at the Kremlin. After their meeting in Moscow the two leaders are set to head to the G20 Summit in Hamburg where they will come face-to-face with Trump, a first meeting for Putin with the US president.