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Hu Leaves Russia Empty-Handed

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday failed to secure major concrete promises of more oil from Russia to fuel his booming economy, but the countries united to issue a veiled condemnation of the United States.

Hu's visit to Moscow had been billed by commentators as a mission to agree on access to more crude oil and gas, but as expected, Russia held off making promises of increased volumes, signing only an agreement to study the possibility.

Russia, the world's second-biggest oil exporter, and China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, with a huge appetite for crude oil, said they wanted to build on their "strategic partnership."

The giant neighbors issued an eight-page joint declaration that made no mention of energy but contained much criticism of countries that seek to throw their weight around on the world stage, a likely reference to the United States.

"International society should rid itself of ... striving towards monopoly and domination in international affairs," said the document, signed by Hu and President Vladimir Putin after Kremlin talks.

"It is necessary to peacefully resolve differences and arguments, avoid one-sided actions and not resort to the politics of diktats, the threat of force or its use."

Despite talk of partnership and development on relations, analysts said Hu was effectively leaving Moscow empty-handed.

"No pipeline, no access to reserves, no return on the $6 billion investment -- the Chinese have signed only face-saving things and are just shaking hands and going home," said Steven O'Sullivan, head of research at UFG.

At the meeting, state oil firm Rosneft signed cooperation deals with Chinese oil firm CNPC and Asia's biggest refiner, Sinopec. Interfax reported Rosneft planned to increase annual deliveries to China to 9 million tons in 2006 from 4 million tons in 2005.

The countries praised their improved relations in recent years and said their joint declaration was important for future ties.

"This declaration has great importance in deepening the strategic cooperation between our two countries," Hu said.

The declaration called on all countries to avoid meddling in each other's affairs. Russia received strong international criticism last year for actively supporting one of the candidates in the presidential election in neighboring Ukraine.

"All countries of the world should strictly observe the principles of mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual nonaggression and non-interference in each other's internal affairs," it said.

They agreed on the need to fight terrorism and said double standards on the issue were unacceptable.

"[We should] look for ways to deprive terrorism of its financial sources and social support, extirpate the ideology of terrorism and extremism. In this question, double standards are intolerable," the declaration said.

Russia has often accused the West of having double standards in the war against terrorism, such as earlier this year when a British television channel aired an interview with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, Russia's most-wanted man.

Hu met with Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov on Saturday for talks on trade and economic ties, The Associated Press reported, citing Russian news reports.

Hu later flew to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, where he was scheduled to spend two days meeting with regional leaders, touring an aviation factory and engaged in other official activities.

Putin and Hu are due to meet again Tuesday in Kazakhstan at a regional security organization summit.

(The Moscow Times 4.vii.05)

 
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