Putin to visit China on May 20: Kremlin

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will next week travel to China for a visit expected to see Moscow and Beijing seal a landmark gas agreement, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

During the May 20 visit to Shanghai, Putin will oversee the signing of a number of "important agreements" in trade and energy, the Kremlin said without providing further details.

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said last month that Russia and China planned to wrap up a decade of talks on supplies of Russian natural gas before Putin's China visit.

Russian energy giant Gazprom said separately the contract was expected to be signed in May.

Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) signed a framework agreement in 2009 which could eventually see almost 70 billion cubic metres of Russian gas sent to China annually for the next 30 years.

But the talks have become mired in pricing disputes.

In recent years Russia has been seeking to align itself more closely with China and those efforts have intensified after the West slapped sanctions on Russian officials over the crisis in Ukraine.

Putin's visit will mark a "new stage of the all-encompassing partnership and strategic cooperation", the Kremlin said.

The two countries are also expected to carry out joint naval exercises in the East China Sea this month.

On May 21, Putin will take part in a regional forum called the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, the Kremlin said, without specifying where.