Medvedev Joins Hu In Attack On Shield

ria-novostiPeking University students applauding Medvedev. He kissed a student who said she loved Russia like her motherland.
President Dmitry Medvedev denounced U.S. plans to build a missile-defense shield in Central Europe while visiting China on Friday, keeping the foreign policy course laid out by his predecessor, Vladimir Putin.

Traveling abroad for the first time as president, he criticized the plans in a joint statement that he signed with President Hu Jintao in Beijing, one of Moscow's closest allies and biggest trade partners.

China has served as a counterbalance for Moscow's relations with the West, which grew strained as Putin adopted a hawkish stance during his second term in office. Medvedev's decision to visit China on his maiden foreign visit suggests that tensions will not immediately go away with the May 7 changeover in the Kremlin. Putin opposed U.S. missile-defense plans as a threat to national security.

The statement by Medvedev and Hu did not identify the United States by name but said "creating a global missile-defense system, including a deployment of such a system in several regions of the world" was harmful for stability, arms control and trust between states.

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Washington was planning to continue efforts to overcome Moscow's objections in line with an agreement between President George W. Bush and then-President Putin in Sochi last month.

"I think the Russian as well as Chinese statements that came out today aren't that much different than previous ones we've seen," he told reporters in Washington.

The United States wants to deploy parts of the missile-defense system in two former Soviet satellite states, the Czech Republic and Poland, in order to counter what it sees as a threat from "rogue" states like Iran.

In a major business deal that highlighted Medvedev's visit, his delegation reached an agreement on Friday to build and supply a uranium-enrichment plant in China worth more than $1 billion.

Russian trade with China has been growing rapidly in the past eight years, reaching $40 billion last year and making China Russia's third-largest trade partner, Medvedev said. The countries plan to increase that trade to $60 billion by 2010 but can achieve that target earlier, he said.

Medvedev autographing books for students at Peking University on Saturday.

Some projects, however, have not materialized quickly. Gazprom has been planning to build two pipelines to pump natural gas to China, but talks are still ongoing about the price for the fuel.

Rosneft, meanwhile, is close to an agreement with China's state-owned CNPC to build an oil pipeline to China, Medvedev said in an interview with Chinese media published last week.

In Beijing, Medvedev said that in addition to nuclear energy, oil and gas, the countries would focus on cooperation in high technology, aircraft building, space, information technology and nanotechnology.

Medvedev, visiting China as the country scrambled to help tens of thousands of earthquake victims, ordered more humanitarian aid, including tents, from Russia. The Emergency Situations Ministry earlier sent medicine and disaster relief experts to work at the site.

Medvedev flew to Beijing after a stop Thursday in Astana, Kazakhstan, where he talked up Russia's interest in expanding ties with other former Soviet republics.

Wrapping up his two-day visit to China on Saturday, Medvedev delivered a speech at Peking University, spicing it with references to Chinese philosophers Confucius and Lao-tzu and including a Chinese proverb about the Yangtze River.

Graduating from such prestigious universities, students grow to become the new elite in their countries and have to take up various challenges, he said. "As you say in China, new people come to replace the old ones like one wave of the Yangtze rolls over the other," Medvedev said.

Answering a question from a student afterward, he said ties between Russia and China had become a "key factor of international security" and global decision-making.

"I can tell you frankly that perhaps not everyone likes this strategic cooperation that exists between our countries," Medvedev said. "But we understand that this cooperation is in the interests of our people, and we will strengthen it by all means, whether somebody likes it or not."

As students clustered around him, he autographed Chinese-language books with his portrait on the cover.

Medvedev kissed one student after she told him that she loved Russia like her motherland, Interfax reported.