Putin congratulates Xi, hails cooperation: Kremlin

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday congratulated Mr Xi Jinping on officially becoming China's president, hailing the two sides' "strategic partnership" and calling for even closer ties.

Mr Putin told Mr Xi, who is expected in Moscow later this month as part of his first foreign trip as president, that he also looked forward to meeting the Chinese leader, the Kremlin said.

In a telephone conversation, Mr Putin "expressed satisfaction with the development of strategic partnership between Russia and China," the Kremlin said in statement.

Mr Putin also "underscored (Russia's) interest in expanding cooperation in all areas, and also strengthening cooperation on the international arena."

Russia and China jointly blocked three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the past two years, vowing to continue to coordinate their foreign policies.

Although the exact date of Mr Xi's visit has not been announced, Mr Putin stressed "the importance of the upcoming state visit of the Chinese leader to Moscow," said the Kremlin.

Mr Xi, who was formally named as China's new president by the country's parliament, is also expected to visit Africa on his first official trip abroad at attend the Brics summit of top developing economies in Durban.

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