Sergei Savostyanov Sputnik Pool Agence France-Presse Russian President Vladimir Putin was welcomed in Beijing by his counterpart Xi Jinping on the occasion of the “New Roads of the silk “.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was welcomed Tuesday by his Chinese counterpart and ally Xi Jinping, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced, on the occasion of the “New Silk Roads” summit in Beijing, at a time when the world eyes on the Israel-Hamas war.
“President Xi Jinping greeted President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival, the two leaders had a brief conversation,” Russian diplomacy said in a message published on isolate Russia from many other states.
A meeting between the two heads of state is scheduled for Wednesday, at a time when the war rages between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
China welcomes representatives of some 130 countries until Wednesday to the “New Silk Roads” forum (officially called “The Belt and Road”), a major diplomatic event which should help strengthen its international stature.
France is represented by Former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, as special representative of the government for China.
After Kyrgyzstan, this is his second trip abroad since the arrest warrant launched against him in March by the International Criminal Court – of which China is not a member – for the “deportation” of Ukrainian children.
On Tuesday, the Russian president met in Beijing with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is trying to maintain ties with Moscow despite the war in Ukraine. Mr. Putin expressed his satisfaction at having Hungary as an interlocutor in Europe.
The two men “will discuss in a friendly and frank manner […] urgent problems of bilateral practical cooperation and the international agenda,” the Kremlin explained.
Western countries have largely sided with Israel since October 7, when Hamas fighters crossed the border between the Gaza Strip and the Jewish state to massacre more than 1,400 people — most of them civilians .
Washington called on Beijing to use its “influence” to calm the situation in the region, where Israeli retaliatory bombings on Gaza have killed at least 2,750 people, the majority Palestinian civilians, according to local authorities.
< p>In March, China sponsored the spectacular agreement to restore diplomatic relations between Iran – support of Hamas – and Saudi Arabia.
Beijing will also send its envoy to the region this week to the Middle East, Zhai Jun. No details were given about his trip, but state television CCTV said he would push for a ceasefire and peace talks.
Russia, which traditionally has good relations with Israeli and Palestinian authorities, has called for an “immediate ceasefire” in the conflict.
« All cards in hand”
Heavily sanctioned by the West because of its offensive against Ukraine, Russia is seeking to strengthen its already very close ties with China, which seems to have gained the upper hand in their bilateral relations — unbalanced since the Russian weakening due to the war.
Beijing has been criticized by the West on the Ukrainian issue. Because if he calls for respect for the territorial integrity of all countries – by implication Ukraine included – he has never publicly condemned Moscow.
The New Silk Roads forum therefore offers a opportunity for Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to reaffirm their understanding, but few experts expect major announcements.
“Russia is aware that China does not want to sign agreements with great publicity,” Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, told AFP.
“C “It's China that holds all the cards,” he insists.
The Russian and Chinese foreign ministers met Monday in Beijing.
Serguei Lavrov thanked China for making Vladimir Putin the forum's “chief guest.”
Last March, Russian President had received Xi Jinping in Moscow where a strengthening of economic and military cooperation had been advocated to counter what they present as American hegemony.
The personal relationship between the two men, who mutually qualified as “dear friends”, is at the heart of this rapprochement.
“President Xi Jinping calls me his friend and I also call him my friend”, declared Mr. Putin before his visit in an interview with Chinese television.