Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met Tuesday ahead of G20 summit talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The sit-down in Moscow is meant to focus on bolstering trade ties between the two partners, with deals worth billions of dollars expected to be signed.
"Economic questions are always at the center of our attention but we are also engaged in coordinating our efforts on the international arena including security and combating modern threats and challenges," Putin told Xi at the start of the two leaders' third official meeting this year.
According to Putin, trade volume between Russia and China increased by 37 percent in the first four months of 2017 in comparison to the last year's 3.9 percent.
Xi in turn praised the "special character" of China's ties with Russia, calling the two nations "good neighbors, faithful friends and reliable partners."
"In March 2013, immediately after I was elected the leader of the People's Republic of China, Russia became the first country I visited... Over the years, we met with [Putin], according to my estimates, 22 times. Russia, thus, has become the most visited country for me, and among the foreign leaders I maintain the closest contacts and connections [with Putin]," Xi said.
Before the talks started, the Kremlin strongman presented Xi with the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called. The Chinese leader received Russia's highest state award for "outstanding achievements in strengthening friendship and cooperation between the peoples of the two countries."
Putin and Xi Jinping also agreed to actively promote a collaborative initiative to "freeze the nuclear activities of North Korea and the large-scale military exercises of the U.S. and South Korea," Putin said.
They called on the U.S. to immediately halt the deployment of THAAD missile system, which they argue threatens the strategic balance in the region, to South Korea.
"Our mutual priorities include a comprehensive resolution of the problems of the Korean Peninsula in order to ensure lasting peace and stability in north-eastern Asia," Putin said
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported earlier that Putin and Xi "agreed to jointly push for a proper settlement of the [Korean] peninsula issue via dialogue and negotiation" at a closed Kremlin meeting Monday evening on the eve of the official talks.
Beijing, North Korea's closest diplomatic ally, and Moscow have called repeatedly for calm on all sides, but Trump has warned Washington's patience with Pyongyang is nearing an end.
The two presidents have also reportedly discussed the situation in Syria.
The Kremlin gave no official details on what was discussed at the "informal" tête-à-tête Monday.
The leaders of the two giant neighbors are expected to oversee the inking of a raft of deals worth billions of dollars as Moscow continues a pivot towards China it has ramped up since ties with the West slumped over Ukraine.
Ahead of his arrival in Moscow Xi said that relations with Russia were currently enjoying their "best time in history" as he and Putin have struck up a close relationship.
After their meeting in Moscow the two leaders are set to head to the G20 summit in Hamburg where they will come face-to-face with Trump, a first meeting for Putin with the U.S. president.
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