Exclusive-China’s Xi plans Russia visit as soon as next week – sources
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping before an extended-format meeting of heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit (SCO) member states in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 16, 2022. Sputnik/Serge
(Reuters) -Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to travel to Russia to meet his counterpart Vladimir Putin as soon as next week, people familiar with the matter said, which would be sooner than previously expected.
Plans for a visit come as China has been offering to broker peace in Ukraine, an effort that has been met with scepticism in the West given Beijing’s diplomatic support for Russia.
Putin said last month that a Xi visit had been agreed, though the Kremlin chief gave no date for a possible visit. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that a visit to Moscow could take place in April or early May.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the possibility of Xi going to Moscow.
When asked about the Reuters report, the Kremlin said it had nothing to say on the matter.
“As a rule, announcements of official foreign visits are coordinated synchronously by mutual agreement of the parties,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.
“When there is such readiness, we will let you know.”
No other details were immediately available.
The sources briefed on the matter declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue.
Last month, Putin hosted China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on a visit to Moscow. One source said that Wang’s trip to Moscow was to help prepare for Xi’s visit.
China and Russia struck a “no limits” partnership in February of 2022, when Putin was visiting Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympics, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine. The two sides have continued to reaffirm the strength of their ties.
Xi has met Putin in person 39 times since becoming president, most recently in September during a summit in central Asia.
On Monday, Xi wrapped up the annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, during which he was unanimously confirmed in a precedent-breaking third term as president.