Xi, Putin meet as US tensions brings them closer

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BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping treated Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to a state visit on Friday as the neighbouring giants forge closer ties in the face of US diplomatic and economic challenges.

Putin, re-elected to his fourth Kremlin term in March, arrived at the grandiose Great Hall of the People in Beijing for talks with Xi, who could stay in power for life after term limits were lifted this year.

The two heads of state reviewed a military honour guard and greeted flag-waving children during the welcoming ceremony before retreating into the vast building.

The most powerful Russian and Chinese leaders in decades, Xi and Putin have built closer ties while US President Donald Trump has labelled both countries as economic rivals that challenge US interests and values.

Xi and Putin are “soulmates who want to make their countries great again”, Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told AFP.

“Both share scepticism towards American hegemony and…

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