Xi, Putin meet as U.S. tensions brings them closer

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Xi said China's "highest honour" is bestowed on foreigners who have made "outstanding contributions" to the country's modernisation drive and helped maintain world peace.

Xi placed the large golden medal around Putin's neck at the grandiose Great Hall of the People in front of dignitaries from both countries.

China is ready to work with Russian Federation and make unremitting efforts to consolidate high-level mutual trust, expand cooperation in all areas, deepen people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning, enhance global coordination and cooperation, pass down the concept of everlasting friendship from generation to generation, continuously enrich the meaning of the two countries' strategy of coordination, and carry forward and renew bilateral ties day by day, so as to benefit the two peoples, Xi said.

Later in the day, Presidents Xi and Putin joined other ministers of state from both countries to watch a friendly hockey match between the Chinese and Russian national teams.

Putin played up his bond with his "good friend" Xi in an interview with China's state broadcaster CGTN this week.

He said that the Chinese President was the only state leader "who celebrated his birthday with him", sharing vodka and sausage.

China's gold-and-blue friendship medal "adopts elements including a peace dove, the Earth, a handshake and a lotus, while the chain features elements such as Chinese knots, evergreens, peonies, a jade disc and orchids", according to the Global Times description. "But he is also a very dependable man to work with".

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The two pledge to continue their coordination efforts for a peaceful and comprehensive solution to the Korean Peninsula issue.

Both he and Mr Xi also held talks in the Chinese capital, where they hailed the close ties between their countries and discussed the upcoming US-North Korea summit, as well as the Iran nuclear deal.

Professor Zhu Feng, director of Nanjing University's Institute of International Studies, also said the award was a clear signal to the USA that if it increased pressure on both countries, it would mean both China and Russian Federation would have no choice but to increase cooperation so they can jointly deal with Washington.

The Russia-China relations are at their best level in history and have set a good example for state-to-state relations in the present world, which has played an important role in safeguarding worldwide peace, security and stability, Putin said.

"Trump's policies justified (the) growing closeness, especially for Russian Federation but also for China given the volatile relationship with the United States", Repnikova told AFP.

India and Pakistan are also members.

Putin also praised joint efforts for peace in the world and affirmed that on the major issues of security, China and Russian Federation stand united.

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