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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zhu Rongji Begins Visit To Moscow

Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji arrived Wednesday in Russia seeking to build on solid political relations and reverse sagging trade ties between the two huge nations.

Zhu will spend four days in Russia, and is scheduled to meet President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov on Thursday, when they will sign agreements on investments and other ties.

Political ties have been growing stronger throughout the 1990s as Russia and China set aside decades of estrangement, but efforts to increase commerce have faltered recently.

Trade between China and Russia slumped to $5.5 billion in 1998, down from $6.1 billion in 1997 and from $7 billion in 1996.

Russia's financial troubles and a slowdown in China's growth after the Asian economic crisis are seen as main reasons for the decline.

Both sides want to put economic ties on a par with political relations, which the two sides often describe as a "strategic partnership" aimed at counterbalancing United States' global influence.

Relations between Russia and China are "a key element if the modern day world order that ensures its stability and evolution toward a multipolar global system," Primakov said in an interview published in China's Jingji Ribao newspaper Tuesday.

During Zhu's visit, his first since he was named prime minister in March, Russian leaders plan to push Beijing to buy more Russian weapons and civilian nuclear technology, First Deputy Prime Minister Yury Maslyukov said.

China has already become a major customer for Russia's ailing defense industry, purchasing fighter jets, missiles, submarines and destroyers. The two countries have also agreed to build a nuclear power plant in China.

Before Zhu's arrival, Maslyukov said Russia wanted to establish "joint ventures to produce enriched uranium and process used nuclear fuel" with China, Interfax said.

The two sides are also expected to sign at least 15 agreements on commercial cooperation, intellectual property, a natural gas pipeline and petroleum deliveries.