Russian president to arrive in China March 21-22

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit China later this month to mark the start of a year celebrating ties between the two countries, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

Putin's two-day visit begins March 21, ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. He did not give any other details.

Russia and China fought border skirmishes after falling out in the 1950s but relations have grown stronger during Putin's regime.

Exchanges have been boosted by China's hunger for Russian oil and gas and mutual concerns over U.S. military deployments.

During a trip to Moscow last year, President Hu Jintao said China wants trade with Russia to quadruple to up to US$80 billion ( Ђ 65 billion) a year by 2010.

China is also the biggest foreign buyer of Russian arms. It has spent billions of dollars (euros) on Russian fighters, missiles, submarines and destroyers in an effort to modernize its arsenal and back up frequent threats to attack Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its territory.

Putin last visited China in October 2004, when the two governments settled the last of their decades-old border disputes, reports the AP.


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