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May 8, 2:46 PM EDT

Russia, China sign raft of economic deals, including loans

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MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian and Chinese leaders on Friday signed a plethora of deals in Moscow, including billions in infrastructure loans for Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow this week for talks as well as for the May 9 commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in World War II, an event that most Western leaders stayed away from amid tensions over Ukraine.

Putin and Xi on Friday oversaw the signing of 32 contracts including a 300 billion ruble ($6 billion) loan to build a high-speed railway link.

Russian gas giant Gazprom also signed a memorandum of understanding with China's CNPC to build a gas pipeline to China and sell up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas, but the details have yet to be hammered out.

Putin said after the talks that Russia would welcome the involvement of Chinese companies in tapping the giant Vankor oil and gas fields in eastern Siberia, adding that specifics are being worked out.

Putin and Xi also talked about the Silk Road Economic Belt, an ambitious Beijing project intended to encourage the infrastructure development in formerly Soviet Central Asia.

Moscow in the past had been jealous about China's efforts to increase its sway in the region, but the two leaders seemed to reach common ground on the sensitive issue during Friday's talks in the Kremlin.

They issued a statement saying that while conducting the project, China will coordinate closely the Eurasian Economic Union, an economic alliance that includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

"It means reaching a new level of partnership that envisages common economic space on the entire Eurasian continent," Putin said after the talks.

Xi, in turn, pledged to coordinate the Chinese plans with Russia-led integration efforts to "expand mutual openness and link development strategies."

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