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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Trade Talk On Agenda For Li Visit

BEIJING -- China's Premier Li Peng arrives in Moscow later this week on a trip aimed at boosting economic links and paving the way for a presidential summit next year.

While politics will take a back seat on Li's visit, both China and Russia stand to gain in a delicate balancing act of their political ties with the West, analysts said Monday.

"Trade will be the main item on the agenda," said Lu Nanquan, deputy chief director of the Russian Studies Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top think tank.

"Both sides need to see an improvement in economic ties," he said.

Li, who starts his three-day visit Thursday, could become the first foreign leader to meet Yeltsin since the Russian president's return to work Monday from heart surgery.

Yeltsin's press office said a meeting was possible given the huge importance Moscow gives to improving ties with China.

Officials of both sides have said economic ties have failed to keep pace with the rapid improvement in political links between the former rivals for the leadership of the world communist movement.

Two-way trade was a modest $6.38 billion in the first nine months of this year, only a small portion of China's nearly $200 billion worth of trade over the same period.

The two nations are still haggling over big-ticket items from nuclear power plants to a natural gas pipeline, and Li's visit may not yield a breakthrough, analysts said.

But both sides are hoping to see enough progress to seal a deal when Chinese President Jiang Zemin meets Russian counterpart Yeltsin in Moscow next spring.

Russia is looking to make headway on a plan to build a pipeline to carry Siberian natural gas to China, while it is also seeking a role in this country's huge Three Gorges dam project.