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Chinese President To Visit Moscow On March 20-22 Following Invitation From Putin

By RFE/RL March 17, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay an official visit to Moscow from March 20 to March 22 as Beijing looks to show support for Russian President Vladimir Putin while also pushing forward a peace plan aimed at ending the conflict in Ukraine.

"During the talks, topical issues of further development of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation between Russia and China will be discussed," the Kremlin said in a statement on March 17.

"An exchange of views is also planned in the context of deepening Russian-Chinese cooperation in the international arena," it added.

The visit comes after Putin recently invited the Chinese leader to come to the Russian capital.

Last month, China unveiled a peace plan for the Ukraine conflict that echoes Russian talking points, including blaming the West for the unprovoked invasion. The Chinese plan called for a cease-fire and peace talks among other provisions.

The West has dismissed the Chinese proposal, but Moscow welcomed it.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on March 17 reacted with skepticism to the announcement of the Xi-Putin meeting.

"We also hope that President Xi will reach out to President [Volodymyr] Zelenskiy directly as we continue to believe that it's very important that he hears from [the] Ukrainian side as well and not just from Mr. Putin," Kirby told reporters.

There is concern that China's proposal is one-sided toward the Russian perspective, Kirby said, saying a cease-fire at this stage would be tantamount to "ratification of Russian conquest" from the U.S. perspective.

Russia would only use a cease-fire to further consolidate its positions and replenish its forces to relaunch attacks on Ukraine at a later time, Kirby added.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing confirmed the trip, saying that Xi and Putin will discuss major international and regional issues during the visit.

Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a news briefing that the visit aims at further strengthening the trust between the two powers.

Shortly before the start of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Xi and Putin issued a common declaration in Beijing last February as the Russian leader was attending the Winter Olympics.

In the declaration, the two leaders said the "friendship between the two states has no limits, there are no 'forbidden' areas of cooperation."

China has since refused to condemn Russia's war in Ukraine and criticized the sanctions imposed by the West on Moscow.

Western allies have accused China of mulling supplying weapons to Russia, and warned Beijing not to do so.

The Chinese president's last visit to Moscow took place in 2019. Putin and Xi met most recently in September at a regional security conference in Uzbekistan.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and AFP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russi-china-xi- jinping-visit/32322363.html

Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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