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Putin's visit to China set to bolster ties

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: May 19, 2014

MOSCOW — Amid a bitter crisis in relations with the West over Ukraine, Russia's President Vladimir Putin is moving to bolster ties with China.

Putin said in an interview with the Chinese media released by the Kremlin Monday, a day before his trip to Shanghai, that Russia sees relations with China as a top priority.

He said that a deal on Russian natural gas exports to China is close to being signed , adding that it would allow Russia to diversify its export routes and let China meet its growing demand for energy.

Russia, which sends the bulk of its gas exports to the European Union, has been locked for years in difficult talks on a new gas contract with China. Moscow sped up work on the deal amid the Ukrainian crisis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin oversees a military exercise involving Russian nuclear forces in Defense Ministry's situation room outside Moscow, Thursday, May 8, 2014. President Vladimir Putin on Thursday oversaw a military exercise involving Russia's nuclear forces amid escalating tensions over Ukraine. Putin said that the maneuvers involved the military across the entire Russian territory, including the nation's nuclear forces. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)
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