Russian President Vladimir Putin reached China on Tuesday to meet his “dear friend” Xi Jinping to strengthen their ties.
Representatives of 130 countries are invited to China for a forum of President Xi’s landmark project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov thanked China for inviting Putin as the summit’s “chief guest”. Xi and Putin, have described each other as “dear friends”.
It is Putin’s first trip to a major global power since the Ukraine invasion. He will meet Xi for talks on Wednesday. During the talks, special attention will be paid to international and regional issues.
This meeting is seen as a hint of increasing closeness between Russia and China following the Ukraine war.
Israel’s war with the Palestinian militant organization Hamas will be a major issue of discussion between the two. .
Western countries have criticised Beijing for not naming Hamas in statements on the Israel-Gaza conflict. China has a warm relationship with Iran, which supports the Hamas.
“President Xi Jinping calls me his friend, and I call him my friend, too,” Putin told Chinese state broadcaster CGTN ahead of his visit.