Try 1 month for $5

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia and China added economic substance to their burgeoning friendship Tuesday, agreeing to formulate a plan for a $1.7 billion pipeline to carry oil from Siberia to northeastern China.

The signing of the pipeline and oil-delivery accords came a day after Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a 20-year friendship treaty formalizing the growing ties between the two nations following decades of Cold War rivalry.

The pipeline accord was signed by officials from the Russian and Chinese governments and executives from the Russian oil producer Yukos and the pipeline monopoly Transneft and the China National Petroleum Corp.

The 1,500-mile pipeline could be completed as early as 2005 and ship 147 million barrels a year to China.

Jiang, on the third day of his official visit, told students at Moscow State University that the friendship treaty between Russia and China was aimed at protecting global security.

“The goal of signing the treaty was to deepen mutual confidence,” Jiang said, speaking in Russian. “If we firmly and unfailingly implement this treaty, we will make Russian-Chinese relations an example of friendship.”

Putin joined the Chinese president at the university for the speech. “This very important treaty … is aimed for the 21st century,” Putin said.

He praised Jiang for delivering the 40-minute speech in Russian, a language the Chinese leader learned as a student in Moscow during the 1950s. Jiang said that each time he visits Russia, “I feel at home.”

He later told reporters that he and Putin had developed a friendly relationship, and he complimented the Russian president on his vigor.

“Although he is still young, he is energetic and experienced,” Jiang told reporters. “As for personal relations, we are already friends, good friends.”

Russian media and analysts suggested that Jiang had initiated the friendship treaty to ensure that the next generation of Chinese leaders maintain close relations with Russia.

“It’s very important for Russia that the treaty says that neither country has territorial claims to another,” said Alexander Pikayev, a military analyst with the Carnegie Endowment.

Some in Russia have voiced concern that Chinese migrants could overrun Russia’s sparsely populated Far Eastern and Siberian regions, which China claimed during Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union.

Putin and Jiang acknowledged Monday that the two countries still disagree on some islands on the Amur River, but promised that the dispute would be resolved soon.

In his speech Tuesday, the Chinese president only touched on the issue of U.S. plans to deploy a national missile defense system. “No country can build its security by abridging the security interests of other nations,” he said.

Russia and China both warn that the proposed U.S. missile shield could trigger a new arms race, but China’s concerns are even stronger, because its nuclear arsenal is tiny compared to Russia’s and even a limited missile defense could erode its deterrent value.

Jiang later flew to Volgograd in southern Russia to visit a World War II memorial, the Interfax news agency reported. The city, called Stalingrad during the war, was the site of a huge battle in which the Red Army routed Nazi troops.

The Chinese leader was also to go sightseeing and visit the Stalingrad Battle museum on Wednesday. He was also to stop at a defense plant which exports rocket launchers to China, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.

Jiang will return to Moscow on Wednesday and then travel to the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.

Copyright © 2001, Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.