World Bulletin/News Desk
Chinese leader Xi Jinping emphasised the importance of relations with Russia as a counterweight to U.S. influence by visiting Moscow on his first foreign trip as president, and secured more oil to fuel China's growing economy.
Although relations between Moscow and Beijing have rarely been smooth, they have improved in the past decade and Xi highlighted this by signing energy, trade and political deals on Friday to strengthen ties between them.
China is grappling with the expanded military and economic interest the United States has displayed in Asia and the Pacific since 2011.
The meeting was carefully scripted and any disharmony was glossed over
"I get the impression that you and I always treat each other with an open soul, our characters are alike. We always speak in a good manner, you and I are good friends," Xi, 59, told Putin as they began their talks, sitting in gold-trimmed chairs.
His remark recalled former U.S. President George Bush's declaration on meeting Putin in 2001 that he had looked him in the eye and "was able to get a sense of his soul".
The crowning point of the visit was an agreement between Russia's biggest oil producer, Rosneft, to gradually increase oil supplies to China to 45-50 million tonnes a year - three times the current level.
Rosneft, meanwhile, will be granted a $2 billion loan from the China Development Bank and a $2 billion deal was announced by Russian and Chinese companies to develop coal resources in eastern Siberia.
But they did not agree on a long-sought deal on supplies of pipeline gas to China.
Even so, Putin declared the visit a success.
"The new Chinese leader's decision to choose our country on his first foreign visit highlights the special nature of the strategic partnership between Russia and China," he said.
NEW PRESIDENT, NEW IMPULSE
Putin has said he wants to "catch the Chinese wind in our economic sail". China's economy is the world's second largest and could outstrip the U.S. economy during Xi's 10-year term.
Mutual trade has more than doubled in five years to hit $87.5 billion in 2012. But the trade volume is still about five times smaller than Russia's with the European Union and far smaller than China's trade with the United States.
The two U.N. Security Council members' solidarity on important global issues has strengthened in recent years.
"China and Russia have similar or identical positions on key international and regional issues," Xi said, reading from a statement after talks and a document-signing ceremony, with Putin sitting beside him behind a large white desk.
"We intend to still more decisively defend the aims and principles of the U.N. Charter and the commonly accepted norms of international relations, to protect justice and equality in the world and provide for peace, stability and prosperity."