Putin and Xi reject US ‘interference’, praise their own ties and trade

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone on Thursday and both rejected what they called U.S. interference in the affairs of other countries, the Kremlin said.

Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov gave details of the call in a briefing to journalists, saying the two leaders had spoken of creating a “multipolar, fairer world order” in the face of U.S.-led efforts to contain both of Washington’s biggest adversaries.

Putin and Xi would continue to have “close personal interaction” but there were no plans for reciprocal visits right now, Ushakov said.

China and Russia have grown closer and expanded trade ties in recent years as the United States and its allies imposed sanctions against both countries, particularly Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Putin and Xi met twice last year as China-Russia trade hit $218.2 billion during January-November, according to Chinese customs data, achieving a goal set by the two countries in 2019 a year ahead of schedule.

Russia meanwhile leapfrogged Saudi Arabia to become China’s top crude oil supplier in 2023, Chinese data showed last month.

The two countries would press on with joint energy projects in 2024, Ushakov said.

Putin and Xi also discussed the situation in Ukraine and conflict resolution in the Middle East and see eye to eye on those conflicts, he said, without elaborating. Russia supported China’s policy on Taiwan, he said.

Moscow and Beijing have increasingly carried out trade in roubles and yuan as they phase out trade in U.S. dollars. Putin and Xi stressed on their call that it was important to build “financial infrastructure that ensures reliability of payments”, Ushakov said.

Chinese state media said Xi told Putin the two countries should pursue close strategic coordination and defend the sovereignty, security and development interests of their respective countries. Xi said both sides should resolutely oppose interference in their internal affairs by external forces.

(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; Writing by John Davison in Geneva, Editing by William Maclean)

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