Putin thanks Xi for his efforts to resolve Ukraine conflict as the 'good friends' bolster China-Russia ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin has thanked Xi Jinping for China's efforts to resolve the Ukraine conflict.

The two leaders met in Beijing where the Chinese president said he hoped Europe will return to peace and stability soon.

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China offered a 12-point plan for peace last year - which Ukraine and the West rejected.

It has yet to condemn Russia or describe the war in Ukraine as an "invasion" - and has also criticised Western sanctions imposed on Moscow.

"China hopes for the early return of Europe to peace and stability and will continue to play a constructive role toward this," Mr Xi said, speaking alongside Mr Putin.

Mr Xi said the two countries were furthering their relationship as "good neighbours, good friends, good partners", according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, echoing their commitment to the "no limits" relationship they signed in 2022, just before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian leader - on a two-day state visit to China - said he would inform the Chinese leader in detail about "the situation in Ukraine", adding: "We are grateful for the initiative of our Chinese colleagues and friends to regulate the situation."

The two leaders signed a joint statement on deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between their two nations, with Mr Xi saying China and Russia would continue to uphold a position of non-alliance and non-confrontation.

Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti quoted Mr Putin as saying that Russia-China relations are "not directed against anyone. Our cooperation in world affairs today is one of the main stabilising factors in the international arena".

Beijing - which claims to take a neutral position in the Ukraine conflict - has forged increasingly close ties with Moscow as the war has dragged into a third year.

China continues to supply Russia with key components for its production of weapons.

Its purchase of Russian oil and gas has also helped boost Russia's economy.

China-Russia military ties have also strengthened - with both countries hosting each other's ground forces for joint drills.

They have also held a series of war games in recent years including naval drills and patrols by long-range bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.

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On the eve of the visit, Mr Putin said in an interview with Chinese media the Kremlin has "never refused to negotiate" over the conflict in Ukraine.

"We are open to a dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries involved in the conflict, including ours," the Russian leader was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said any negotiations must include a restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the release of all prisoners, a tribunal for those responsible for the aggression, and security guarantees for Ukraine.