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China, Russia to hold joint naval drills in Baltic Sea
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 19, 2017


A Chinese naval fleet is steaming towards the Baltic Sea to participate in joint exercises with Russia, with the show of force to take place after US President Donald Trump visits NATO ally Poland next month.

The three ships, headed by the Changsha destroyer, will link up with Russian vessels for drills near St Petersburg and Kaliningrad, Chinese state media reported.

Russia and China have taken turns hosting the exercises, dubbed "Joint Sea", since 2012.

This year's iteration is set to take place in late July, Xinhua news agency said, and will include Chinese marines and ship-borne helicopters.

Trump is expected to visit Poland, which is on the Baltic Sea, on July 5-6 ahead of his participation in the G20 summit in Germany.

The US president has taken a tough stance on the alliance, which has been a perpetual thorn in Russia's side, leaving many to question his commitment to the joint-security arrangement that was born during the Cold War.

Xinhua said late Sunday that this year's drills aim "to consolidate and advance the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and deepen friendly and practical cooperation between the two militaries."

The exercises, it added, will also "improve coordination between the two navies on joint defence operations at sea".

Previous year's drills have also been held in politically sensitive areas.

Last year, the exercises took place in the contested South China Sea, where Beijing's construction of artificial islands in waters claimed by its neighbours has drawn criticism from the US and other nations which say the project threatens freedom of navigation through the region.

SUPERPOWERS
New Trump-era US-China dialogue set for June 21
Washington (AFP) June 15, 2017
The first meeting in a much-touted new diplomatic and defense dialogue between the United States and China will take place in Washington on June 21, the State Department announced Thursday. North Korea's nuclear weapons program is likely to top the agenda for next week's talks, which follow Pentagon chief Jim Mattis's assurances to Asian allies that the initiative will not compromise US oppo ... read more

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