Russian first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov yesterday completed two days of talks in Beijing preparatory to the arrival of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who today is himself to launch several days of talks with Chinese leaders. According to Russia’s ambassador to China, a 1997-2000 trade agreement and some ten other accords and memoranda are to be signed during Chernomyrdin’s stay in Beijing — including a framework agreement on a natural gas pipeline to run from Russia’s Irkutsk region to eastern China. According to diplomatic sources in Beijing, the two sides will also discuss Russian participation in construction of the Yangtze River Three Gorges hydroelectric dam. These and other projects were discussed, and several understandings signed, during a meeting on June 24 of a Russian-Chinese intergovernmental commission co-chaired by Nemtsov and his Chinese counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister Li Lanqing. According to Russian atomic energy minister Viktor Mikhailov, who is accompanying Nemtsov, the two sides also signed a contract on the construction of a nuclear power plant in China’s Jiangsu province.
Nemtsov, on his first official visit to China, met yesterday with Chinese prime minister Li Peng. As was the case during the previous day’s talks, both sides applauded the development of friendly relations between Russia and China and pledged to increase bilateral cooperation still further in the years ahead. Nemtsov observed that current annual trade turnover between the two countries, which he estimated at less than $7 billion, ought to be increased significantly. In an elliptical reference to disgruntlement in Russia’s Far East over the ongoing demarcation of the Russian-Chinese border, Li Peng called for the maintenance of "peace, order, and calm along the entire length" of the more than 4,000 kilometer border. He also spoke positively of the "strategic" partnership between Russia and China and called for the two countries to move toward concrete implementation of the many cooperative agreements that they now have signed.
According to Nemtsov, much attention was devoted during his talks on June 24 to defense related issues, and an unnamed General Staff official indicated yesterday that Chernomyrdin would aim, among other things, to increase military and military technical cooperation between Russia and China. The two sides will reportedly sign a protocol on the conversion of nuclear weapons and, according to Nemtsov, Moscow has also tabled a proposal to provide Russian technology for liquidating chemical weapons stockpiles said to have been left in China by Japan after World War II. (Russian agencies, Kyodo, Xinhua, June 24-25)
Lithuanian-Polish Joint Battalion Created.