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Personnel Exchanges 'Should Be Strengthened'
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President Hu Jintao's three-day visit to Moscow, which starts today, is vital to the development of the decade-old strategic partnership between China and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said yesterday.


Hu's tour comes as the strategic and coordinated partnership between the two countries enters its second decade this year, and "his visit will help create a blueprint for the development of China-Russia relations in the next 10 years while also reviewing past experiences", Zhang Deguang, the former Chinese ambassador to Russia, said in an interview.


Noting that the relationship between China and Russia was not "an alliance," nor did it target a third party, Zhang said that the strategic and coordinated partnership between them featured "mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit."


"Both countries can benefit from bilateral relations by seeking to meet the long-term and fundamental interests of each other," said Zhang, who served as ambassador to Moscow from 2001 to 2003. 


Describing the cooperation between China and Russia over the past decade as "pragmatic", he said the two countries had sound collaborations in trade, energy, transportation and telecommunications, as well as international affairs.


The two have close interests and concerns, including a similar stance on wide-ranging international affairs, so they have good and smooth coordination and cooperation in this regard, Zhang said.


"Both seek to safeguard world peace and support democratic international relations, multilateral dialogues and peaceful means to deal with international disputes, such as the Korean and Iranian nuclear issues and the United Nations reforms," he said.


He said that the partnership formed under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a good demonstration of the strategic and coordinated relationship between China and Russia.


"Both China and Russia are key players in the region. They play a crucial role in maintaining peace, stability and security, and promoting the development of Euro-Asian ties," Zhang said, who concluded his tenure as the organization's secretary-general at the end of last year.


However, he said to further develop China-Russia relations, the two countries must put a lot of efforts into promoting understanding between their peoples. China and Russia have had some conflict in the past, such as during the Cold War. Also, while developing their relationship they have had to deal with some sensitive issues, which has sometimes led to misunderstandings, he said.


"The two countries should strengthen personal exchanges, particularly involving the youth, and interact more in sport, culture, health, tourism and education, to increase reciprocal knowledge and understanding and remove disparities," Zhang said.


(China Daily March 26, 2007)

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