Putin lauds China ties and SCO role

UntitledThe Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has become a platform for its members to carry out diverse cooperation and also a popular, attractive and authoritative international institution, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Xinhua.

The SCO was originally set up with rather low-key goals, which were to solve all kinds of border cooperation problems both difficult and easy, he said in an hour-long exclusive interview here with Xinhua President CaiMingzhao ahead of his Saturday state visit to China.

Now the mechanism has been used to settle other problems and evolved into a platform for its six members to carry out cooperation in multiple areas, including political affairs as well as infrastructure construction, Putin added, noting that security and drugs have also been covered.

“The SCO has become a popular and attractive organization in the region. Many countries around the world have expressed willingness to join it,” he said.

At this year’s summit in Tashkent, Putin added, the SCO will formally implement the decision made last year at the Ufa summit on granting membership to India and Pakistan, and also discuss the participation of other countries in the SCO mechanism.

The expansion of its functions and membership has turned the SCO into an authoritative and popular organization not only in the region but also in the world at large, said the Russian president.

Noting that some countries hold different standpoints on certain issues, Putin acknowledged that their accession into the SCO is not expected to solve those issues.

But that will pave “the way for the settlement of those issues,” he stressed. “We are full of expectations for that.”

Meanwhile Putin said that all members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) agree to beef up cooperation with China within a Silk Road cooperation framework proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Silk Road Economic Belt is a “very well-timed and appealing” initiative that has “great potential,” Putin commented in an hour-long exclusive interview here with Xinhua President CaiMingzhao ahead of his Saturday state visit to China.

The proposal is one of the two arms of the Belt and Road Initiative, which also comprises the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road and aims to pursue common development along the ancient trade routes linking Asia with Europe and Africa.

Echoing Beijing’s consistent stance, Putin noted that the purpose of the Belt is to expand cooperation with countries around the world, first and foremost with neighboring countries.

In a recent EEU meeting in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, all the five members — Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia — expressed support for carrying out cooperation with China within the Belt framework, Putin recalled.

In the first phase of cooperation, the two sides can set up a free trade area, he proposed, noting that the fundamental path of world economic development and EEU-China cooperation is to promote openness.

With more and more countries in the region interested in joining the ranks, “we shall try to avoid establishing a closed economic and trade bloc,” he added.

Putin also said that Russia and China are “close allies” with their ties running at a very high level and bilateral cooperation expanding steadily.

“We see each other as close allies, so of course we always listen to each other, by this I mean we keep in mind each other’s interests,” he said in an hour-long exclusive interview here with Xinhua President CaiMingzhao ahead of his Saturday state visit to China.

He noted that mutual trust between Moscow and Beijing has reached an unprecedented level and laid a solid foundation for bilateral cooperation, which now covers a variety of areas including trade, energy and infrastructure.

Although Russia and China cannot always reach consensus on difficult issues quickly, they can make them — however difficult they are — serve the common purpose of promoting bilateral cooperation, so they are always able to find solutions, added the Russian president.

Speaking of the current decline in bilateral trade value, Putin said it is merely a temporary downtick resulting from the current market prices of certain commodities and differences in exchange rates against the backdrop of global economic woes.

The most important task in Russia-China trade now is diversification, particularly boosting bilateral cooperation in high-tech areas, he said, noting that the two sides have taken concrete measures to improve their trade structure.

While citing fruitful bilateral cooperation in aerospace and nuclear power, he said the Russian side is also closely following the construction of a high-speed railway between Moscow and Kazan.

The 770-km track, now under Russia-China joint construction, is designed for bullet trains capable of running at up to 400 km per hour, and expected to cut the travel time between Moscow and Kazan from the current 12 hours to three and a half hours.

The project “it may very well be only the beginning of our broad cooperation in infrastructure,” said Putin.

“Our cooperation in culture is also of great value,” he said, adding that such programs as the Year of China in Russia and the Year of Russia in China are undoubtedly helpful to cementing mutual trust between the two peoples.

Meanwhile, the two countries have also witnessed steady expansion in bilateral cooperation in such areas as foreign policy, armed forces and military technology, noted the Russian leader.

“We have maintained contact regularly, and carried out consultations on global and regional affairs,” he said, pointing out that such cooperation “is itself a stabilizing factor in international affairs.”  (Courtesy Xinhua)