Russia's Putin and China's Xi to hold talks in September

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping next month, Interfax said on Thursday.

The two leaders will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St Petersburg scheduled for Sept 5-6, the agency quoted a senior state official as saying.

US President Barack Obama earlier this month cancelled a meeting with Mr Putin due to be held ahead of the same summit, in retaliation for Moscow granting ex-spy agency contractor Edward Snowden asylum.

Moscow and Beijing have progressively strengthened political and commercial ties since the Soviet era, when relations were often strained. Both countries now say they need a counterweight to US influence in the world.

As members of the United Nations Security Council, Russia and China have repeatedly ruled out sanctioning Syria and vetoed three Western and Gulf Arab-backed resolutions condemning President Bashar al-Assad for an increasingly brutal war.

In March, Mr Xi paid his first foreign state visit as president to Moscow.

Trade flows between Russia and China more than doubled to US$87.5 billion (S$111 billion) in the five years to 2012 - still far below the levels of Russia's trade with the European Union and China's with the United States.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.