- Created on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 14:20
- Hits: 384
Russian President Vladimir Putin is beginning a three-day visit to China, with energy and foreign policy expected to dominate the agenda.
Mr Putin said ahead of the trip that he wanted to further boost booming bilateral trade, which reached $84bn (£55bn) last year.
The Syrian crisis is also expected to be discussed during the talks.
Russia and China have resisted Western pressure to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power amid ongoing unrest.
China's envoy to the UN, Li Baodong, has described Syria as one of the most pressing issues on the agenda of the Security Council.
Beijing currently holds the council's rotating presidency, and Mr Li urged all parties to immediately implement the peace plan of UN envoy Kofi Annan.
Syria's rebel Free Syrian Army said on Monday it was no longer committed to the nominal ceasefire.
Spokesman Sami al-Kurdi told Reuters news agency the FSA had begun attacking soldiers to "defend our people".
Mr Putin will hold extensive talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao later on Tuesday.
The Russian leader is taking to Beijing six cabinet ministers, the head of gas giant Gazprom and other energy companies.
Some 17 major business and trade deals between Russia and China are expected to be signed in Beijing, Mr Putin's aides say.
But it remains unclear whether this will include a long-awaited gas agreement that would allow Moscow to supply some 70bn cubic metres of gas to its neighbour.
Latest reports suggest that pricing disagreements remain between Russia, the world's biggest energy producer, and China, the largest consumer of energy.
On the eve of the visit, Mr Putin told China's state media that he wanted to increase bilateral trade to $100bn in 2015 and $200bn by 2020.
He said the target could be achieved "ahead of schedule".
On Wednesday, Mr Putin will meet Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, who is tipped to be the next premier, and Xi Jinping, who is expected to become next president after a stage-managed leadership change later this year.
While in China, Mr Putin will also attend a regional security summit on Thursday.