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Russia Honors Its Commitment to Oil Pipeline Project

Visiting Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov Wednesday said his government would honour its commitment to the Russia-China oil pipeline project, adding its specific route is still under discussion.

"I have reiterated some of the Russian side's commitments to meeting China's need for petroleum and natural gas for its economic development and we will live up to those commitments," Kasyanov said at a joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao after their talks.

The planned 2,400 kilometers-long Russia-China oil pipeline is to extend from Russia's Angarsk to China's Daqing.

China National Petroleum Corp and Russia's private oil producer YUKOS signed an agreement on this US$2.5 billion project during President Hu Jintao's state visit to Russia in May.

However, Japan is trying to persuade Russia to choose its proposed route which would bypass China and stretch to Russia's Far East port of Nakhodka.

The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources indicated earlier this month that it might block the planned routes for the Angarsk-Daqing pipeline due to environmental problems.

Kasyanov said construction of the pipeline is the most reasonable way for Russia to supply crude oil to China. Russia will decide the specific route "in the near future."

The Chinese premier told the press that co-operation in energy is the most important part of Sino-Russian economic ties.

Wen said the current scheme is realistic and practical and serves the interests of both countries.

After their talks, Wen and Kasyanov signed a joint communique on the eighth regular meeting between Chinese and Russian prime ministers.

The prime ministers set as their main target a major increase in trade between the two countries, according to the communique.

Bilateral trade volume hit US$12 billion last year and is expected to reach US$14 billion this year.

To boost that figure to US$20 billion as early as possible, Wen said both countries agreed to strengthen co-operation across the region and between businesses. They will also give special attention to developing China's vast western hinterland and Russia's Far East area.

He said the two countries have also agreed to work together more on investment, especially in the energy field.

China and Russia would also try to diversify their trade and improve its structure.

In the joint communique, the two sides expressed firm support for each other's efforts in safeguarding national unification, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Russia reiterated its principled position on the questions of Taiwan and Tibet.

The two countries also committed to a stronger partnership when dealing with international affairs.

Their prime ministers said disputes and crisis should be settled through political means and expressed their support for the United Nations and its Security Council.

They held that peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula should be maintained and the nuclear issue in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea should be resolved through peaceful dialogue.

Both believe the United Nations should expand its role in solving the problem of Iraq.

The international community must actively participate for Iraq to return to normal soon.

President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo and Vice-President Zeng Qinghong yesterday also held separate meetings with Kasyanov.

(China Daily September 25, 2003)

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