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China’s defence minister to visit Russia, Belarus this week: ministry

China refuses to explain why defence minister sacked
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Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu will visit Russia and Belarus this week, his ministry said in an online statement on Monday.

Ties between Beijing and Moscow have remained warm in recent years, with China refusing to speak out against Russia’s widely condemned invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

“At the invitation of Russian Defence Minister (Sergei) Shoigu and Belarusian Defence Minister (Viktor) Khrenin, from August 14 to 19, State Councillor and Defence Minister Li Shangfu will go to Russia to attend the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security, and visit Belarus,” a Chinese defence ministry spokesperson said.

Li’s visit to Russia will include a speech at the international security forum, as well as meetings with leaders of defence departments from Russia and other countries, the spokesperson added.

Last month an aide to Vladimir Putin said the Russian president was planning to visit China in October, and in March President Xi Jinping made a state visit to Moscow and declared relations between the two countries were entering a new era.

China and Russia are strategic allies, with both sides frequently touting their “no limits” partnership and cooperation in the economic and military spheres.

Their ties became even closer after Russia began its military campaign in Ukraine in February last year and the western economic sanctions that ensued.

Beijing has pointedly declined to condemn Russia’s offensive.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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