Russian, Chinese president pledge closer ties

Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, issued a pledge Tuesday to pursue closer political and economic ties, but there was no word of progress in talks on building a closely watched pipeline to deliver Siberian oil to China.

A 13-page declaration was issued following talks between the two leaders, their fifth meeting in less than a year, and came at a time when officials say ties between the former Cold War enemies are at their highest point ever.

Putin and Hu promised to promote closer ties between their energy, telecommunications, transportation and other industries, though their statement didn't give any financial details.

A 90-member delegation of Russian industry leaders traveling with Putin signed a sweeping series of 15 agreements with their Chinese counterparts to promote commercial cooperation but didn't immediately release any details.

China is a leading buyer of Russian oil and gas and is the top customer for Moscow's arms industry.

Trade last year totaled US$29 billion, and the two governments say they hope to double that by 2010, reports the AP.

I.L.