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Hu in Moscow on first foreign
trip as China leader

May 27, 2003 16:07 IST

Chinese President Hu Jintao, on his first foreign trip as head of state, meets Russian officials on Tuesday to discuss economic ties between the two countries.

Hu, accompanied by his wife, arrived in Moscow on Monday and plunged straight into talks with President Vladimir Putin at an informal dinner.

"This is my first foreign tour after being elected chairman of China, and Russia is the first country in it," Interfax news agency quoted Hu as saying at his meeting with Putin.

"This shows the level of importance we attach to our relations with Russia," he added, expressing confidence that his Moscow visit would "bring important results."

Russia is the first stop on Hu's four-nation trip and he is seeking to use his debut on the world stage to repair China's battered image after its cover-up of the SARS outbreak.

Putin was quoted by Interfax as saying Russia was satisfied "an experienced politician became the chairman of China, and not simply an experienced politician, but a person with a special feeling for Russia."

Hu's 11-day trip, his first since becoming president in March, will also take him to France, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

The Liberation Army Daily, the mouthpiece of the military, said Hu's summit with Putin would raise bilateral relations to "new heights".

The trip will also test Hu's diplomatic skills.

He is due to meet a succession of leaders on the sidelines of a G8 summit in France between June 1 and 3.

Those meetings include US President George W Bush.

Analysts said North Korea's nuclear ambitions, post-war Iraqi reconstruction and bilateral ties were likely to top the agenda of Hu's third meeting with Bush since February 2002.

Hu is also to meet French President Jacques Chirac on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Evian as well as Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.


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