Beijing: China and Russia signed agreements on Monday to boost energy cooperation, while Moscow said it is ready to supply its energy hungry neighbour with all its natural gas needs.
No dollar value was given to the agreements signed during a state visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, but they include documents on cooperation in coal, natural gas, nuclear energy and renewable energy.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin told reporters in Beijing that Russia is in talks with Chinese partners on plans to launch natural gas supplies to China starting in 2015, according to the state ITAR-Tass news agency.
"Russia is ready to meet China`s full demand in gas," Sechin was quoted as saying in the report.
Russia is the world`s biggest energy producer and China is the world`s largest energy consumer, overtaking the United States last year.
Although Europe remains Russia`s largest export market for gas and oil, both Beijing and Moscow have been seeking to diversify their energy sources and markets, despite a long history of mutual suspicion and tensions.
Medvedev is on a three-day visit that started on Sunday. He met Chinese President Hu Jintao for talks on Monday and praised closer ties with China.
"I believe that the contact between the two countries is completely in the interest of the Russian and Chinese peoples," Medvedev said in opening remarks.
Hu hailed a "new era" in partnership. "Both sides believe that the current strategic partnership between China and Russia stands at a new starting point”, the Chinese leader said at the end of talks.
Sechin said that if talks with China on gas supplies went well, Russia could sign commercial contracts by the middle of next year, ITAR-Tass said.
Russian news agency Interfax cited Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko as saying that "in my opinion, the main terms of (gas) supplies, apart from the price, have been agreed upon."
In late August, Russia opened its section of a 625-mile (1,000-kilometer) crude oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to China, which will connect Russian oil fields with Daqing, a major oil production base in northeastern China.
Russia and China split bitterly 50 years ago over interpretations of communist ideology. In recent years, their relationship has warmed but they remain divided by culture and a preference in both capitals for acting independently.
Both see themselves as rivals to Washington and all three are permanent members of the UN Security Council. China and Russia have close ties to Iran and though they supported UN sanctions adopted last month against Tehran over its suspected nuclear program, they have objected to stronger measures.