China, Russia Fail to Reach Gas Deal

China and Russia failed to reach a $400 billion natural gas supply agreement Tuesday despite high expectations that the political interests of both countries would push them to complete the deal.

On a visit to Shanghai, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping signed 49 agreements on energy, transportation and communications. But they did not agree on how much China would pay Russia to supply gas over the next 30 years.

Negotiations over a Russia-to-China gas deal have lasted a decade.

Analysts had predicted a deal could be reached now as Russia looks to sell its gas outside Europe, where U.S. allies have imposed sanctions against Moscow for its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. China is seeking to move from its heavy reliance on coal to fuel its economic expansion.

The two countries still could reach a gas deal before Putin ends his two-day visit to China on Wednesday. His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said "significant progress" had been made and a contract could be signed "at any moment."

Even with the setback on the gas deal, President Xi praised his country's ties with Russia, saying the relationship is key to improving each others' international stature.

"We attach a lot of importance to the quality of practical cooperation between China and Russia," he said. "We will begin more large-scale, strategic project cooperation to improve our two nations' power and international competitiveness."

President Putin, meanwhile, stressed the importance of strong Russia-China military links, which he said could help maintain regional peace.

"Cooperation between the two militaries is very important. Cooperation between the defense ministries of the two countries is also very important," he said. "This cooperation is very significant in maintaining regional and global peace and stability."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

VOA News / May 21, 2014 07:59 KST