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China's Jiang arrives in Moscow

BEIJING, China -- Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrived in Moscow Sunday for his second summit of the year with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jiang, boosted by the Olympic victory on Friday, is due to sign a friendship agreement with Russia during the visit.

Despite concerns expressed by the U.S., Beijing insists the so-called Good Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation represents no military threat.

"This treaty will not touch upon military cooperation," a Foreign Ministry official told reporters ahead of Jiang's 10 day visit to Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Malta.

"It will not be kept a secret," he said.

Although the treaty will be relatively bland, with sweeping declarations of friendship and cooperation into the 21st century, it has stirred unease in Washington.

China and Russia share resentment towards the rise of the United States as the world's only superpower.

In particular, both countries oppose Washington's missile defense plans - a subject both leaders are likely to touch upon following the latest U.S. test at the weekend.

'Friendly cooperation'

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The treaty, a year in the making, would "lay down the legal basis for friendly cooperation in the future," the Chinese official said.

"We think it's a peaceful treaty that highlights a quest for cooperation, peace and prosperity," he said.

China has stressed that the new treaty, unlike one signed in 1949 between Beijing and the former Soviet Union that expired 30 years later, would not constitute a formal alliance.

After a breakup of their alliance in the mid 1960s, Moscow and Beijing turned into bitter rivals for supremacy in the Communist world.

There were several border clashes in two decades of hostility before ties started improving in the late 1980s.

Since then Russia and China have sorted out their frontier problems, the biggest irritant in relations.

Some political analysts say the treaty, far from having any aggressive intent, was pushed by both sides as a defensive measure, bonding the two countries that in many respects are potential adversaries.

Russia fears the weight of China's vast population bearing down on its sparsely-populated far eastern region.

Looking into the future, China sees a revitalized Russia as a possible rival for influence in Asia.

Bush, Jiang summit

The meeting between Jiang and Putin will be the second of three planned for this year.

At a meeting in Shanghai in June, the two leaders expressed opposition to U.S. President George W. Bush's plans to build a missile defense system.

Moscow and Beijing also share the goal of stemming growing U.S. influence in oil-rich Central Asia.

Putin is expected to return to Shanghai for a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum later in the year.

Jiang is scheduled to hold a summit with U.S. President George W. Bush in Beijing after the APEC meeting.

Reuters contributed to this report.







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