China leader heads to Olympics; to meet with Putin

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BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping has departed for the Sochi Olympics and talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in what state media portrayed as a sign of warming relations between the neighbors and former communist rivals.

China's official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday that Xi's visit demonstrated the special bond between the two countries. Xi pointedly made Russia his first foreign destination after taking over as president last March.

Russia and China have frequently joined forces in the United Nations and elsewhere to challenge Western leadership in global affairs. They also dominate the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group dedicated in part to curbing American influence in Central Asia.

Russia is also an increasingly important supplier of oil and gas to China's economy, the world's second largest.

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