BEIJING, Sept 18 (Reuters) – China’s top diplomat Wang Yi began a four-day trip to Russia on Monday, during which the two nations are expected to pledge deeper mutual political trust and prepare for a possible landmark visit to Beijing by President Vladimir Putin. in October.
Wang, who heads both the foreign ministry and the ruling Communist Party’s foreign affairs bureau, will meet with Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev for annual security talks, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The veteran diplomat’s talks with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov will cover “a wide range of issues” including “contacts at higher and highest levels”, the Russian Foreign Ministry said last week.
Wang is expected to lay the groundwork for Putin’s visit to the Chinese capital for the third Belt and Road Forum at the invitation of President Xi Jinping during a high-profile visit to Moscow in March.
Putin attended China’s first two Belt and Road Forums in 2017 and 2019.
However, he is not known to have traveled abroad as the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for him over the illegal deportation of hundreds of children from Ukraine.
On September 1, Putin said he expected to meet Xi soon, but did not explicitly confirm that he would go to China again.
The arrest warrant, issued just days before Xi Jinping visited Russia, obliges the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he enters their territory.
However, China is not a party to the Rome Statute, which led to the establishment of the ICC in 2002.
During the visit, there will also be a detailed exchange of views on issues including Ukraine, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last week.
Wang last visited Russia in February on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which alarmed the United States, which accused the two nations at the time of sharing a vision in which “borders could be redrawn by force.”
Ahead of this week’s visit, Wang traveled to Malta for hours of “constructive” talks with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
The weekend talks were the latest in a series of high-level meetings between US and Chinese officials that could lay the groundwork for a meeting between Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden this year.
Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Clarence Fernandez
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.