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"Good old friend", Putin praises the Chinese leader, on the eve of the meeting in Russia

"Good old friend", Putin praises the Chinese leader, on the eve of the

Vladimir Putin has praised "good old friend" Xi Jinping in a newspaper article published in China ahead of a state visit by the Chinese president that will reaffirm the leaders' strong ties and give Moscow an opportunity to emphasized that it has not been isolated from the global community.

The two leaders, who are believed to share a strong personal relationship, will meet face-to-face today, followed by an informal lunch, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

In an article written for a Chinese newspaper on Sunday, Putin welcomed China's willingness to play what he characterized as a "constructive role" in resolving the "crisis" in Ukraine.

The Russian president called Xi his "good old friend" and said Russia had high hopes for his visit, the first by a Chinese leader to Russia since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine last year.

"We are grateful for China's balanced line regarding the events taking place in Ukraine, to understand their background and true causes. We welcome China's willingness to play a constructive role in resolving the crisis ," Putin said.

Xi in turn published an article in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, a daily published by the Russian government, in which he called for "pragmatism" on Ukraine.

He said China's proposal, a 12-point document released last month and largely rejected by the West, represents the unity of the world community's views as much as possible.

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