China's Xi to visit Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus

China's Xi to visit Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus

BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Russia this week to attend World War II anniversary celebrations, the foreign ministry announced Monday, with Kazakhstan and Belarus also on his itinerary.

Xi will visit Moscow from Friday through Sunday at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ministry said on its website.

On his way Xi will stop in Kazakhstan on Thursday for a one day visit, and he will return via Belarus from Sunday to Tuesday, the ministry added.

Xi's visit comes as China stresses its role in the defeat of Japan as well as the broader victory against global fascism -- a reference also to Nazi Germany and Italy -- as the world marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the conflict.

China itself is planning a huge military parade later this year to commemorate victory over Japan and also the end of the conflict in Europe.

At the same time Xi and Putin have developed a close working relationship which reflects the increasingly close ties between their countries over the past quarter century after periods of hostility and distrust during the Cold War when Moscow was the capital of the Soviet Union.

The countries, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, often take similar stances there on divisive issues such as the conflict in Syria.

Economically, China covets Russian oil and gas resources, while Russia sees the world's second-largest economy as a potentially stable customer in the face of western sanctions over the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine.

Last week, China announced that the two countries' navies will conduct their first-ever joint exercises in the Mediterranean this month.

Beijing is also looking to develop a "Silk Road Economic Belt" running west through Asia to the markets of Europe.

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