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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin, Jiang Find Common Ground

BEIJING -- The presidents of Russia and China vowed Monday to strengthen their "strategic partnership" and declared common positions on key foreign policy fronts, urging peaceful diplomatic solutions in Iraq and North Korea and promising to support each other's fights with Muslim separatists.

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Jiang Zemin signed a declaration calling for a "multipolar world" -- a phrase used by both to express dissatisfaction with U.S. global dominance.

Putin's two-day visit, coming after a year in which he improved relations with the United States and Europe by supporting the anti-terror campaign and accepting NATO enlargement, emphasized that Russia wants partners and power in both the East and West.

"We're absolutely certain that the special strategic relationship between Russia and China will not only enable us to solve the problems facing our countries, but also will create a basis for stability in the world," Putin said at the signing ceremony for the 13-page joint declaration.

The statement called for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and appealed to the United States and North Korea to engage in dialogue and stick to a 1994 agreement for the North to give up its nuclear program in exchange for foreign energy aid.

North Korea said last month that the 1994 agreement had collapsed after the United States, South Korea, Japan and the European Union suspended fuel oil supplies. The cutoff was meant to punish the North for starting a new nuclear weapons program.

The statement urged the "normalization of relations" between Washington and Pyongyang.

"At this stage we are talking about a political dialogue within the framework of which any questions could be discussed -- including those that raise concerns for either America or North Korea," Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said.

On Iraq, Jiang and Putin said the conflict over weapons of mass destruction can only be solved through diplomatic and political means and vowed to "continue to work together within the United Nations" to ensure that Security Council resolutions are not violated.

The United States has threatened war to disarm Iraq if it violates the latest UN Security Council resolution, but Russia and China insist that only the council can make that decision. Both are permanent council members with power to veto UN actions.

Moscow and Beijing have tried to restrain U.S. dominance by insisting that the United Nations should have the last word in international affairs.

Putin and Jiang pledged mutual backing for China in its struggle against separatists in its Muslim northwest and Russia's war in Chechnya, which has drawn criticism from the West.

The leaders accused other governments of "double standards" on terrorism and human rights, saying they reject "the use of human rights questions as a lever for pressure in international relations."

They said "terrorists and separatists" in Chechnya and northwestern China are international terrorists who "should be condemned and become the object of a common fight on the part of all the states of the world."

In addition to Jiang, Putin met with Premier Zhu Rongzhi, legislative chief Li Peng and Hu Jintao, who replaced Jiang as Communist Party leader last month and is expected to become president in March.

Ivanov said Russia was assured "there will be complete continuity as regards the future of our relations," which he said is "very important."

Russian and Chinese officials also signed a series of economic and law enforcement agreements, including pledges to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism. A Chinese state bank committed to a $200 million line of credit for Russian companies to buy Chinese products and equipment.

Putin and Jiang emphasized the importance of economic ties and said oil, gas and other energy projects are a priority.

Putin is to meet with university students and visit a section of the Great Wall outside Beijing on Tuesday before leaving for India.