China’s President Xi Jinping will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week on the sidelines of Beijing’s flagship One Belt One Road summit in Beijing.

This would be Xi and Putin’s first meeting this year. The two leaders will also hold talks during Xi’s upcoming visit to Russia in the first week of July.

The allies, who are permanent members of the UNSC, are due to stress their unity in dealing with hot spots like North Korea and Syria.

Earlier last year, Chinese President Xi said he hoped Russia and China might remain “friends forever”.

“President Putin and I equally agree that when faced with international circumstances that are increasingly complex and changing, we must persist even harder in maintaining the spirit of the Sino-Russian strategic partnership and cooperation,” Xi said.

Russia’s trade turnover with China is almost thrice as big as that with the US.

In Beijing, Xi and Putin will also discuss the upcoming BRICS summit. The 9th BRICS Summit is scheduled to be held in the resort city of Xiamen in east China’s Fujian Province in September.

Later on, the Russian and Chinese presidents will meet at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam.

Beijing will host the Belt and Road forum on May 14-15. The forum is expected to bring together top officials from 28 countries, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

“China has invested more than 50 billion U.S. dollars in countries along the Belt and Road since proposing the initiative in 2013,” He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said in early March.

China’s One Belt, One Road initiative aims to create a modern Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to boost trade and extend its global influence.

The ancient Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C.

The 6 000 km road linked ancient Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Arabic, Greek and Roman civilizations.