Putin, Xi sign joint statement encompassing further military cooperation

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed a joint statement which includes plans to advance bilateral military cooperation.

The Russian leader held summit talks with Xi in Beijing on Thursday during his official visit to China -- his first foreign trip since he started his fifth term earlier this month.

In the statement, Russia welcomes China's readiness to play a constructive role in the political and diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine crisis.

It also includes plans to expand the scale of joint military drills by Russia and China as part of the deepening of their military cooperation.

The two leaders later held unofficial talks with only interpreters present, taking a walk together and having tea.

Russia's state-run media reports that they also exchanged opinions over dinner with four major officials from both sides, including Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Andrei Belousov.

The two countries reportedly held the unofficial talks for more than 4 hours. This suggests they are strengthening bilateral relations with an eye on Western countries, which are at odds with Russia and China over the situations in Ukraine and East Asia.

The Russian presidential office says that Putin will visit a memorial for former Soviet soldiers in the Chinese northeastern city of Harbin on Friday. It says he will also deliver a speech at a local university.