BEIJING: Hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the first high level Russian official to visit Beijing after the Ukraine war, China on Wednesday said "cooperation" between the two allies has no "ceiling" to resist "hegemony".
Lavrov arrived in Tunxi, east China's Anhui Province, for the third meeting of foreign ministers on Afghanistan, Russia's official news agency Tass reported on Wednesday.
"There is no ceiling for China-Russia cooperation, no ceiling for us to strive for peace, no ceiling for us to safeguard security and no ceiling for us to oppose hegemony," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here when asked to describe the limits of China-Russia relations.
Commenting on the most recent round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey's Istanbul, Wang Wenbin noted "positive signals" demonstrated by both parties. "We have always believed that a dialogue and negotiations are the only correct way to achieve the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis," he said.
Asked by a reporter from Russia's official Tass news agency whether China as the permanent member of the UN Security Council can be a guarantor for any agreement between Russia and Ukraine, Wang Wenbin said China encourages all sides for peaceful resolution of the crisis. "We support all diplomatic efforts towards that end," he said.
Later Lavrov in his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Russia is interested in building relations with China in a stable and consistent manner.
"We are interested in our relations with China developing steadily and consistently, our leaders - President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping agreed upon this. Today, as you have said, we will consider concrete steps to ensure that all those agreements are consistently implemented," the top Russian diplomat stated.
Putin and Xi met here in February on the side-lines of the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games where they firmed up their strategic alliance against the US and its alliance.
"I am very pleased to talk to you, dear friend, especially in another beautiful province. I have already visited many provinces of China, and all of them are truly exquisite," Lavrov told Wang Yi as they met in Tunxi, Tass reported.
While the purpose of Lavrov's visit to China is to take part in the meeting on the Foreign Ministers of the neighbouring countries on Afghanistan, significance is attached to his visit as Beijing, a close ally of Moscow has backed Russia's war on Ukraine even though it walked a fine-line calling for peaceful resolution while highlighting Russia's security concerns relating to NATO expansion.
This is the first visit by a top Russian official to China after Moscow launched a war on Ukraine on February 24.
Significantly, the US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns will be attending the troika meeting of the special envoys of China, Russia and the US of Afghanistan being held on the side-lines. It is not clear yet whether Burns will be meeting Lavrov.
The troika meeting will be held on the side-lines of the third meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan's neighbouring countries being held on Wednesday and Thursday.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will chair the meeting to be attended by the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan or their representatives.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also met Wang Yi in Tunxi.
"The two foreign ministers exchanged views on bilateral strategic, economic and security cooperation; COVID-19 pandemic; peace, stability and development in Afghanistan; and regional and international issues of mutual interest," Pakistan's state-run news agency APP reported.
He highlighted that the leaders' consensus was translating into high-quality development of CPEC (China, Pakistan Economic Corridor) Phase-II, and burgeoning cooperation in diverse areas of cooperation like industrial development, agricultural modeCHINA-LAVROV-VISITrnisation and information technology.