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Putin, Xi discuss ties at Sochi Games
February 7, 2014, 12:36 am

Xi, right, is one of the first leaders to confirm attending the Olympic Opening Ceremonies [Xinhua]

Xi, right, is one of the first leaders to confirm attending the Olympic Opening Ceremonies [Xinhua]

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Sochi, the host city of the 22n Winter Olympic Games, and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin late on Thursday.

Jinping, who is to attend the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies during his three-day visit, told reporters that China and Russia are “good neighbors, good partners and good friends,” adding that he had come to the Black Sea resort of Sochi to convey his congratulations to the Russian people and leadership on the occasion of the global sporting event.

During their meeting, the first in 2014, the two leaders discussed bilateral cooperation and increasing people-to-people exchanges.

The two leaders also spoke via video uplink to the captains of the Chinese and Russian vessels that have been providing naval escort to European ships transporting Syria’s chemical weapons to be destroyed at sea.

In early January, the Russian missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky and the Chinese frigate Yancheng escorted the Dutch cargo ship Ark Futura as it carried the first batch of deadly weapons from the Syrian port of Latakia. In late January, a second batch was loaded onto Danish and Norwegian ships, which will then transfer the chemical weapons to the US naval vessel the Cape Ray.

The Cape Ray is fitted with deployable hydrolysis systems, which will be used to destroy the deadly chemicals.

Meanwhile, hundreds of athletes and Olympic delegations from 88 countries continued to arrive in Sochi, as qualifying rounds for major competitions were underway.

Russia has increased by some 35,000 personnel its security forces protecting Olympic venues and the city of Sochi itself.

Security has been a concern since two suicide bomb attacks which targeted the train station and a trolleybus in the southern city of Volgograd, 500km north of Sochi killed 34 people and injured 60 in December.

The attackers were suicide bombers dispatched from an extremist group called Vilayat Daghestan, which says it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Dagestan in the neighbouring Caucasus.

Russian security forces have in recent weeks stepped up raids and arrests of suspected militants in a some Caucasus states.

Last week, Washington announced that US security experts have been working with their Russian counterparts to coordinate security for American athletes participating in the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Some teams, such as the US ski and snowboarding squads, have hired private security firms for added safety.

The Opening Ceremony will be held on Friday and the Games will run until February 23.

Source: Agencies

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