China's Xi says country has ability and confidence to meet all challenges

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for Kremlin talks that reflected increasingly close ties between the two countries that were communist rivals during the Cold War.

Russian Federation had decided on a pivot to the east years ago after ties worsened with the West over the Ukraine conflict.

The Chinese leader's trip to Moscow his eighth to Russian Federation since he became president six years ago.

"Over the past six years we have met nearly 30 times ..."

'In recent years, thanks to your direct participation, the relationship between Russian Federation and China has reached an unprecedentedly high level, ' Putin told Xi on Wednesday.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping said the country's economy is stable, healthy and well placed to meet all risks and challenges, according to a transcript published by the Xinhua news agency. "It is a global partnership and strategic cooperation".

Moscow and Beijing could be about to upgrade their relationship to something close to an alliance as both try to fend off pressure from the West, sources say. Putin participated in the celebration five years ago but wasn't invited this time. It has also been criticised for assisting the Assad regime in Syria in 2015. In recent days, the two sides have traded jibes over who is to blame for the stalemate, while expressing a willingness to hold more talks but determination to resist unreasonable demands.

"The parties emphasize the need to protect their mutually beneficial commercial and economic cooperation with Iran and firmly oppose the imposition of unilateral sanctions by any states under the pretense of their own national legislation.", the statement said.

The partnership has already seen an increase in trade, which grew by 25% in 2018 to hit a record $108bn (£85bn) according to the Kremlin.

The president called on the two countries to enhance support for each other, seek greater synergy between their development strategies, expand areas of cooperation, and play a more constructive role in global affairs.

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Washington has claimed Huawei poses a national security risk and banned U.S. firms from cooperating with the Chinese firm. While some, like Australia, Japan, New Zealand, followed suit and banned the company from participating in government contracts due to security concerns, others, including Germany, have resisted the pressure and decided against barring the Chinese company from building the crucial networks.

Xi's three-day trip to Russian Federation will include a visit to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which runs June 6-8 in Russia's second-largest city.

Standing alongside Xi after the talks, Putin thanked China for entrusting the pandas to Moscow.

Mr Xi unveiled two panda bears at the Moscow Zoo which will remain a long-lasting reminder of the visit.

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