MOSCOW: Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the Kremlin on his arrival in Moscow on Monday.

When Xi reached the Kremlin, he was greeted by the Kremlin Commandant at the alighting point. Putin warmly shook hands and took photos with Xi. The two presidents had an in-depth and candid exchange on China-Russia relations and issues of mutual interest.

Xi said that he was pleased to pay another state visit to Russia at the invitation of Putin, adding that Russia was the first country he visited after he was elected president 10 years ago and memories from that visit remain fresh till today.

Xi added that over the past 10 years, he and Putin have stayed in close touch, and expressed his appreciation to Putin for immediately sending him congratulatory messages on his reelection as general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) by the 20th CPC National Congress and on his reelection not long ago as the Chinese president.

He noted that Russia will hold the presidential election next year, and under Putin's strong leadership, Russia has made good progress in development and rejuvenation. Xi said he is confident that the Russian people will continue to give firm support to Putin.

Xi stressed that there is a profound historical logic for China-Russia relationship to reach where it is today. China and Russia are each other's biggest neighbours and have a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. Both countries see their relationship as a high priority in their overall diplomacy and policy on external affairs, reported Xinhua.

China always upholds an independent foreign policy. To consolidate and develop well China-Russia relations is a strategic choice China has made on the basis of its own fundamental interests and the prevailing trends of the world, said Xi.

China is firm in keeping to the general direction of strengthening strategic coordination with Russia, Xi said, adding that both China and Russia are committed to realising national development and rejuvenation, support world multi-polarity and work for greater democracy in international relations.

Xi said the two countries should further deepen practical cooperation in various fields and strengthen coordination and collaboration on multilateral platforms such as the UN to boost their respective national development and rejuvenation, and be a bulwark for world peace and stability.

Putin extended a warm welcome to Xi for his state visit to Russia and once again warmly congratulated him on his reelection as Chinese president.

Putin said that in the past 10 years China has made impressive and great achievements in all areas of development. This is attributable to the outstanding leadership of Xi and proves the strength of China's national political system and governance system.

Putin said he is confident that under Xi's strong leadership, China will definitely continue to develop and prosper and successfully realise all the great goals that have been set.

With concerted efforts by both sides, Russia-China relations in recent years have delivered fruitful results in various areas, Putin said, adding that Russia stands ready to continue to deepen bilateral practical cooperation, step up communication and collaboration in international affairs, and promote world multi-polarity and greater democracy in international relations.

The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine issue.

Xi stressed that, on the Ukraine issue, voices for peace and rationality are building. Most countries support easing tensions, stand for peace talks, and are against adding fuel to the fire. A review of history shows that conflicts in the end have to be settled through dialogue and negotiation.

China released a document on its position on the Ukraine crisis, advocating the political settlement of the crisis and rejecting the Cold War mentality and unilateral sanctions, said Xi.

China believes that the more difficulties there are, the greater the need to keep space for peace. The more acute the problem is, the more important it is not to give up efforts for dialogue. China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine issue, said Xi.

For his part, Putin said that Russia appreciates China for consistently upholding an impartial, objective, and balanced position and standing for fairness and justice on major international issues. Russia has carefully studied China's position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine issue and is open to talks for peace. Russia welcomes China to play a constructive role in this regard.

The two presidents said that they look forward to formal talks on the next day to draw up a new blueprint for China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the years to come. -Bernama