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Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed his close friendship with Vladimir Putin on Wednesday as he hosted the Russian leader for talks that celebrated their nations' deepening political and economic ties.
Putin, on his first trip to a major global power since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, met his "old friend" Xi at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on the sidelines of a major forum.
"The political mutual trust between the two countries is continuously deepening," Xi said, according to Xinhua news agency, hailing their "close and effective strategic coordination".
Xi noted that he had met with Putin 42 times in the past decade, saying they had "developed a good working relationship and a deep friendship".
Putin is the guest of honour at a summit hosted by Xi in Beijing to celebrate his Belt and Road Initiative, a vast trade and infrastructure project.
Despite international attention focused on the Israel-Gaza conflict, neither Xi nor Putin made public comments on the war that has raged for more than 10 days.
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The Chinese president did, however, call for joint efforts by China and Russia to "safeguard international fairness" and "justice", Xinhua said.
China is Russia's largest trading partner, with exchange between the nations reaching a record $190 billion last year, Beijing customs data shows.
And Xi said Wednesday it was progressing towards a goal of $200 billion set by the two countries in bilateral meetings this year.
Beijing has drawn criticism from Western countries for its stance on the Ukraine war, on which China insists it is neutral. It has refused to criticise Moscow's invasion.
Putin is on a mission to strengthen the already strong bond with his communist neighbour, though experts say Moscow is increasingly the junior partner in the relationship.
In his talks with "dear friend" Xi, he stressed the importance of "close coordination in foreign policy" in "the current difficult conditions".
"And we are doing it, and today we will discuss this," Putin was quoted as saying in a Kremlin readout.
China's state broadcaster CCTV reported shortly before 3:00 pm (0700 GMT) that the tete-a-tete had finished, carrying footage of Putin being whisked away in a motorcade.
'Oppose unilateral sanctions'
Representatives of 130 countries are in the Chinese capital for the two-day talking shop that wraps up on Wednesday.
Earlier Xi said in a speech to the international delegates that his country rejected "economic coercion" and "bloc confrontation".
In an apparent reference to China's rivalry with the United States, Xi said Beijing would not engage in "ideological confrontation, geopolitical games or bloc confrontation".
"We oppose unilateral sanctions, economic coercion, decoupling and delinking," Xi told delegates.
"Viewing the development of others as a threat and economic interdependence as a risk will not make one's own life any better or one's own development any faster," he said.
Instead, Xi said, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) would seek to "inject new impetus into the global economy".
"We deeply believe that only when there is win-win cooperation can things get done, and get done well," he said.
He also pledged to inject over $100 billion of new funding into BRI projects.
Putin then took to the stage, hailing the infrastructure initiative as a "success story".
"Given the global dimensions of the initiative the Chinese leader launched a decade ago, frankly, one could hardly expect to make it work," Putin said in his address to delegates.
"Our Chinese friends are making it work. We are glad to see this success story as it means a lot to many of us."
At an official banquet on Tuesday, Xi delivered a toast in which he alluded to recent conflicts, but added that "the historical (trend) of peace" was "unstoppable".
Middle East envoy
The United States has asked China to use its influence to help de-escalate the Israel-Hamas conflict, which erupted after the Palestinian militant group launched an attack in Israel, killing 1,400 people.
Israel then launched a withering air campaign against Gaza, which has seen more than a million people in the blockaded territory flee their homes. About 3,000 Gazans have died in Israeli bombardments, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
China, which brokered a detente between key Hamas backer Iran and its regional foe Saudi Arabia this year, said it would send its Middle East envoy Zhai Jun to the volatile region this week.
No details have been given about where or when exactly Zhai would travel, though CCTV has said he will push for a ceasefire and peace talks.
Russia, which has traditionally maintained good relations with both Israeli and Palestinian authorities, has called for an "immediate ceasefire" in the conflict.
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