French military fends off Somalia pirate attack


Russian and Chinese flags flying at Tiananmen Gate in honor of Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing.
The French military fended off a pirate attack on two fishing boats, hundreds of miles off the coast of east Africa, a French Defense Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

Wen hosted a welcome ceremony for Putin at the Great Hall of the People at the start of a three-day visit, before their private talks and a larger session involving ministers from both sides, Xinhua said. “Russia and China have become genuine and comprehensive strategic and cooperative partners in recent years,” Putin was quoted by Xinhua as saying. Bilateral relations have become stable and mature since the forging of diplomatic ties 60 years ago and particularly the establishment of the Russia-China strategic cooperative partnership in 1996, Wen told reporters. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said the deals included two $500-million-dollar banking deals — one involving Russia’s Vnesheconombank (VEB) and the China Development Bank and the other between Russia’s VTB bank and the Agricultural Bank of China, Agence France-Presse reported. Chinese and Russian negotiators also met Tuesday “to exchange views on China-Russia energy cooperation,” according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement. In April, the two countries signed agreements on oil cooperation, while a memorandum of understanding on natural gas cooperation in followed in June. But negotiations over the pricing of the gas have reportedly remained a major obstacle to a final deal, AFP said. However, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, who met with Zhukov at a joint economic forum earlier Tuesday, told reporters that the China-Russia oil pipeline project was going smoothly and the loan China pledged to Russia had been implemented, Xinhua said.

The construction on the China section of an oil pipeline from Siberia started in May. The 1,030-kilometer (640-mile) pipeline runs from Skovorodino, Russia, to the city of Daqing in northeastern China. It is expected to go into operation by the end of 2010 and carry 15 million tons of crude oil annually from Russia to China from 2011 to 2030, Xinhua added.

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