Sechin to Visit China for Energy Talks

BEIJING -- Russia and China will launch high-level talks aimed at encouraging energy cooperation between them, the Chinese government said Thursday, after years of frustrated deal making over oil and gas.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin would visit China on Saturday and Sunday for talks with Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

Liu called the deputy prime minister-level "energy negotiations mechanism" an important step that would help them "jointly plan energy cooperation."

But talks between Russia, with its abundant reserves of oil and gas, and China, with its constant thirst for steady energy supplies, have yielded limited progress so far, largely because the two heavyweights disagree on pricing.

China believes that access to its vast markets should win it a steep discount on fuel prices. Moscow is not prepared to go as low as Beijing wants, and so planned gas pipelines have stalled.