Russia, China to solidify ties

Xi Jinping arrived in Russia on March 22, a visit that will be his first overseas trip as President of China. According to the Chinese leader, this visit will give a fresh impetus to strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing. Experts say that all necessary conditions are now in place to contribute to expanding bilateral cooperation.

In a televised interview broadcast earlier this week, Xi Jinping outlined three main topics related to the Russian-Chinese dialogue. The first theme is beefing up support of issues concerning vital interests of both countries. The second subject is enhancing practical collaboration between Russia and China, Mr.Xi said, adding that the two’s annual trade turnover is due to stand at 100 billion dollars by 2015. The third topic is coordinating actions on the global arena, Mr. Xi pointed out. Upholding principles of international law, including those concerning non-interference in sovereign states’ domestic affairs, turns Russia and China into natural allies, says Vasily Kashin, of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow.

"China sees Russia as a partner in its standoff with the United States, Kashin says. On many international issues, such as Syria, Moscow and Beijing act as a single front against Washington and its allies. Speaking of a military alliance between Russia and China is irrelevant, of course, but politically, we support each other in terms of jointly countering the West."

Beijing knows perfectly well that in case of the China-US competition turning into a full-fledged conflict, the US Navy may block maritime channels of hydrocarbon supplies to China.  This is why Beijing seeks to boost energy cooperation with Moscow as Russian companies continue to deliver oil to Chinese market. According to Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin, Russia may increase annual oil exports to China from the current 15 million tons to 50 million tons.

Meanwhile, the two countries remain at odds over gas-related issues that are expected to be high on the agenda of Mr. Xi’s talks with his Russian counterpart. For his part, the Russian President’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that no bilateral agreement on gas supplies will be signed during Mr.Xi’s visit to Moscow. However, this does not mean that the conclusion of a relevant treaty will fail to see the light of day in the near future, says Konstantin Kokarev, of the Moscow-based Institute of Strategic Studies.

"The very fact that we have been discussing a gas price formula for a long time means that sooner or later , both sides will agree on the matter. All the more so that the two countries’ energy cooperation remains a main component of our relation in the energy sector," Kokarev says.

In this week’s interview with Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency, President Vladimir Putin pointed out China’s special role in Russia’s economy and foreign policy. He recalled that bilateral trade turnover has more than doubled in the past five years. He also stressed that at present, “Russian-Chinese relations are on the rise and see their best period in their centuries-old history".

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World Parliamentarians Required to Settle Crisis in Syria

 QUITO, (ST) _Speaker of the Syrian Parliament Mohamed Jihad al-Lahham stressed that it is time for the international community to listen to the voice of truth and support efforts to stop violence, bloodshed and massacres carried out by armed terrorist groups and to back the political program to resolve the crisis in Syria, so as to preserve Syria's   land and people unity   and world peace and security.

In a meeting for the Executive Committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the sidelines of preparations for opening works of the General Assembly 128th session in Quito al-Lahham highlighted the reality of what is happening in Syria and the role of external actors and regional and Arab media against  Syria's land and people in  the  systematic destruction of its infrastructure and public and private property.

In the same context al-Lahham briefed Anders Johnson Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and its President Abdul wahed Radi on the efforts of the Syrian parliament to provide success for the political program to resolve the crisis in Syria and the hopes  pinned on the outcome of the 128th meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union 's  General Assembly in supporting Syria 's efforts against terrorism and for halting  violence.

 

T. Fateh

No NATO Consultations to Interfere in Syria- Czech official

PRAGUE,(ST)_Press spokesman for the Czech Defense Ministry Vladimir Ochowski  denied any consultations within NATO about the possible intervention of NATO in Syria, pointing out that in all cases, participation of Czech troops in such an intervention should be approved by the  government and parliament.

The Czech  TV also  quoted Chairman of the foreign committee at the Czech  parliament  David Fodrajka as saying,  commenting on the information in this regard that "The Czech Republic has an embassy which is  still working in Damascus and that the Czech  should not have an active thinking about intervention. "

For his part, Vice President of the Czech parliament  Lubomir Zaaralak  said that  "any specific operation now in Syria will be of a problematic nature".

 

T. Fateh

Britons against Arming Syrian Opposition

LONDON,(ST)_ In a letter they handed to the British Foreign Office, British  parliamentarians and peace activists called on Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Minister William Hague to abandon efforts to arm "Syrian opposition" and to refrain from fueling the crisis in Syria.

Coordinator of the " Stop the War" coalition in Britain Lindsay Germaine said in a statement to Al-Alam TV  on Thursday that  " Cameron intends to go to war and we have to pay attention , that  after failing in Afghanistan and Iraq , our government wants to drag us to war again," stressing that "lifting the arms embargo is a fatal  folly act that will lead to more  Syrian casualties. "

For his part, Jeremy Corbin, member of the British House of Commons  said that "arming" Syrian opposition "means a massive fight in a region which is in a dangerous situation," noting the importance of creating a "dialogue and a political solution."

Worthy mentioning  that according to the latest opinion poll in Britain fifty-five percent of Britons refuse arming "Syrian opposition" and are  concerned  over  their country's direct intervention in the crisis in Syria.

 

T. Fateh

Russia Urges UN to Probe Chemical Weapons Reports

Russia hopes the United Nations will respond to Syria’s request to look into allegations of the use of chemical weapons during fighting between terrorists  and government forces, a senior Foreign Ministry official said on Thursday.

“We expect that the UN secretary general will promptly react to Syria’s request to investigate the use of chemical weapons on March 19,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote on his Twitter.

“It is important to form a neutral and professional team of experts who can present unbiased conclusions,” twetted Gatilov, Russia's point man on the Middle East.

Syrian state media reports said that at least 25 people died and 110 more were seriously injured.

Syria's envoy to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, said on Wednesday that he had asked the UN chief, Ban Ki Moon, to approve an investigation into the reports.

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UN probes chemical weapons in Aleppo,says Ki-moon (2)

The UN is to investigate the use of chemical weapons in an attack in Syria, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has announced.

The investigation will focus on an incident in Khan al-Assal, Aleppo province, when Damascus says terrorist groups  used chemical weapons.

On Wednesday Syria's permanent representative to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, said he had asked Mr Ban to form a "specialised, independent and neutral technical mission to investigate the use of the terrorist groups operating in Syria of chemical weapons yesterday against civilians".

Earlier,Russia hopes the United Nations will respond to Syria’s request to look into allegations of the use of chemical weapons during fighting between terrorists  and government forces, a senior Foreign Ministry official said on Thursday.

“We expect that the UN secretary general will promptly react to Syria’s request to investigate the use of chemical weapons on March 19,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote on his Twitter.

“It is important to form a neutral and professional team of experts who can present unbiased conclusions,” twetted Gatilov, Russia's point man on the Middle East.

Syrian state media reports said that at least 25 people died and 110 more were seriously injured.

Syria's envoy to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, said on Wednesday that he had asked the UN chief, Ban Ki Moon, to approve an investigation into the reports.

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Russia Denies Plans to Abandon Tartus Resupply Base

The Russian Defense Ministry denied on Thursday media reports speculating that Russia will relocate its resupply base in the Syrian port of Tartus to Beirut due to the escalation of the crisis in Syria,according to RIA NOVOSTI.

“The reports that Russian warships … will use Beirut rather than the Syrian port of Tartus as a resupply point are nothing but pure speculation,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry confirmed that a Baltic Fleet unit, consisting of the Yaroslav Mudry frigate and the large amphibious assault ships Kaliningrad and Alexander Shabalin, made a port call in the Lebanese capital of Beirut recently.

“But to link this event with a plan to abandon the Tartus base is incorrect, to say the least,” the statement said.

The Russian Navy maintains a small Soviet-era resupply base in Tartus on Syria's Mediterranean coast.

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Lavrov, Brahimi Discuss Developments in Syria

MOSCOW, (ST) _Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a telephone call on Wednesday discussed with Lakhdar Brahimi UN envoy to Syria developments of conditions in Syria in the light that  some parties especially the  "opposition" abroad and the Arab League 's rejection to  dialogue contrary to  the understandings of Geneva statement.

Russia Today online quoted the  Russian Foreign Ministry as saying  in a statement: "The two  parties discussed the Syrian file in light of the inclination  within the Syrian opposition abroad and the Arab League to reject dialogue with the Syrian government despite the agreements in Geneva statement  to form a  transitional administration on the basis of consensus between the government and the opposition ".

T. Fateh