China’s President Xi Jinping has arrived in Moscow for an official three-day visit, during which he will discuss Russia's ongoing military campaign in Ukraine as well as other issues of bilateral and international interest with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
The two leaders greeted one another as "dear friend" when they met for informal talks in the Kremlin on Monday afternoon. They will sit for formal talks on Tuesday.
During the meeting, Putin told Xi that he is ready to discuss Beijing's Ukraine peace proposal.
"We are always open to negotiations," Putin told Xi, adding, "We will certainly discuss all these issues, including your initiatives which we treat with respect, of course."
"We have plenty of common tasks and objectives," Putin said, adding that it was "symbolic" that China's president chose to travel to Russia for the first foreign visit of his new term.
While strengthening relations with Moscow, China has released a broad 12-point proposal to solve the Ukraine crisis.
Beijing has repeatedly dismissed Western accusations that it is planning to arm Russia, saying, however, that it wants a closer energy partnership after boosting imports of Russian coal, gas and oil.
Ahead of his visit to Moscow, Xi said China's Ukraine peace proposal reflects global views on the conflict.
"Complex problems do not have simple solutions," he wrote in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, a daily published by the Russian government.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Putin said he was "slightly envious" of China's rapid development in recent decades.
"China has created a very effective system for developing the economy and strengthening the state. It is much more effective than in many other countries," Putin said.
Xi, for his part, hailed his country's "close ties" with Russia, saying, "We are partners in comprehensive strategic cooperation. It is this status that determines that there should be close ties between our countries."
Xi told Putin that he was convinced the Russian people would support him in a presidential election due in 2024.
"I know that next year there will be another presidential election in your country," Xi said, adding, "Thanks to your strong leadership, Russia has made significant progress in achieving the prosperity of the country in recent years. I am sure that the Russian people will strongly support you in your good endeavors."
Later on, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out that Xi did not specifically said Putin would participate in next year's election, adding that the Kremlin shared Xi's confidence in Russians' support for Putin.
Xi was the first leader to meet the Russian president since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him on Friday over the allegation of the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia during its year-old invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow said the charge was one of several "clearly hostile displays" and opened a criminal case against the ICC prosecutor and judges. Beijing said the warrant reflected double standards.