Russia, China sign 3.5 bln dlr deals: official

BEIJING: China and Russia signed 3.5 billion dollars in commercial deals in Beijing on Tuesday ahead of a meeting between the two countries' premiers, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said.

Zhukov told reporters that more agreements would be signed when visiting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets later with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

"It's the first time, perhaps, that such large commercial deals are being sealed in such volume between Russian and Chinese enterprises," Zhukov said, explaining the results of a joint economic forum held in the morning.

Zhukov said there were about 40 deals including a pair of 500-million-dollar banking deals -- one involving Russia's Vnesheconombank and the Export-Import Bank of China, the other between Russia's VTB bank and a Chinese bank.

He did not provide further details.

However, Dow Jones Newswires said one of the deals involved China Development Bank extending a 500-million-dollar credit line to a Russian bank.

"I think a meeting between the two premiers will be successful. A whole number of very serious intergovernmental agreements will be signed," Zhukov said.

The two sides were widely expected to seal possible agreements on energy.

Russia and China in 2006 signed an initial agreement on a pipeline to supply China with up to 80 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas annually, earlier press reports have said.

But negotiations over the pricing of the gas have reportedly remained a major obstacle to a final deal.

The Russian government also has said other agreements due to be signed included one committing each country to notifying the other of the launch of ballistic missiles from its territory.

They also will ink a memorandum of understanding on developing high-speed train travel on Russian territory, the Russian government said in a statement in Moscow on Sunday.