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Expectations of massive gas deal surround Putin's visit news
11 October 2011

Beijing: Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin commenced talks Tuesday with his Chinese counterpart, premier Wen Jiabao, under the overhang of a massive, though unrealised, natural gas deal. Observers said the state visit was unlikely to result in any breakthrough despite mutual expressions of goodwill.

Putin's two-day visit to China from Tuesday will be his first foreign trip since announcing his intention to once again be a candidate for his country's presidency. In his talks with the Chinese premier he could seek to narrow disagreements that have blocked both nations from settling a potential 30-year deal to supply China with up to 68 billion cubic metres of gas per year.

China's Xinhua state news agency praised Putin's visit as one that "will mark ever-deepening China-Russia cooperation".

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman also informed a daily news conference that the Chinese vice premier, Wang Qishan, would hold a fresh round of energy cooperation negotiations with Russian deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin.

By way of an indicator, that negotiations weren't likely to mature into a deal, the chief executive of Russia's state-controlled gas company Gazprom's export arm, Alexander Medvedev, said he would not be part of formal talks.

Medvedev said he was in Beijing merely to oblige if Chinese officials wished to speak to him.

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Expectations of massive gas deal surround Putin's visit