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The Russian and Chinese presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Hu Jintao,
The Russian and Chinese presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Hu Jintao, will hold two bilateral meetings before the end of this year, the secretary of Russia's Security Council said on Thursday.

"Our meetings are becoming increasingly regular due to the fact that we are strategic partners," Nikolai Patrushev said, opening security talks with a Chinese delegation. "Three top-level meetings have already taken place this year, and at least two others are scheduled to be held before the end of 2008."

Patrushev said foreign policy, security, and developments in the Caucasus in the wake of the Georgia-Russia conflict in August - issues highlighted in President Medvedev's state of the nation address on Wednesday - would dominate talks.

Medvedev traveled to Kazakhstan and China soon after his inauguration in May. The choice of the Asian nations for his first trip abroad was regarded as a signal to the West of a shift in Russia's foreign policy priorities.

Russia and China, both veto-wielding UN Security Council members, have several shared foreign policy objectives, opposing independence for Serbia's province Kosovo, tougher sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear activities, and criticizing the United States' plans to build missile defenses in Central Europe.

Bilateral trade has been growing steadily over the past eight years, reaching $48 billion in 2007, which is still much lower than between Russia and Europe. The balance of trade has been in China's favor, with Russia exporting mainly oil and other raw materials.

Eighty percent of Russia's energy exports go to Europe, but Moscow plans to considerably increase oil and gas supplies to Asian nations, mainly to China, by 2020 once new pipelines have been built.


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