Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 218

A long-awaited informal summit meeting between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin turned out to be a good deal more informal than either side had anticipated, with the two leaders meeting yesterday at Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital. The short “no-neckties” meeting between Yeltsin and Jiang took place despite Yeltsin’s recent hospitalization for pneumonia and a longer battle with various infirmities which have sharply curtailed the Russian president’s official activities and his contacts with foreign leaders.

Both sides nevertheless proclaimed yesterday’s talks a success. They also said that Jiang’s meetings with Yeltsin–as well as his separate talks both with Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and with parliamentary leaders–had reinforced the “strategic partnership” between Russia and China which was originally established in April 1996. Yesterday’s meeting was the sixth summit between the Russian and Chinese leaders, and the first to be conducted on an “informal” basis. It is an approach which Yeltsin appears to enjoy. It is also one which Kremlin officials say reflects the current close ties between Moscow and Beijing. During yesterday’s talks Jiang officially extended an invitation to Yeltsin to visit China next year for a second meeting. New reports also indicated that Primakov will meet with his Chinese counterpart, Zhu Rongji, in Moscow in the spring.