Putin bids to agree China gas deal
Published 20/05/2014 | 10:47
President Vladimir Putin has met with his Chinese counterpart in a diplomatic boost for the isolated Russian leader, but his spokesman said the two sides are yet to agree on a widely anticipated multibillion-pound natural gas sale.
Mr Putin, shunned by the West over Ukraine, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a start of a two-day meeting in Shanghai on Asian security with leaders from Iran and Central Asia.
The Russian leader is hoping to extend his country's dealings with Asia and diversify markets for its gas, which now goes mostly to Europe.
Russia and China have been negotiating a proposed 30-year gas supply deal for more than a decade, and officials said they hope to complete work in time to sign a contract while Mr Putin is in Shanghai. But the Russian leader's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it is not yet finalised.
"Significant progress has been reached on gas, but there are issues that need to be finalised regarding the price," Mr Peskov said, according to Russian news agencies. He said a contract could be signed "at any moment".
A deal would give Moscow an economic and political boost at a time of Western sanctions, while pressure on Moscow is thought to give Beijing leverage to push for a lower price.