|Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the opening ceremony of the "Tourism Year of China" in Russia, in Moscow, capital of Russia, March 22, 2013. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)|
MOSCOW, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, attended here on Friday evening the opening ceremony of the "Tourism Year of China" in Russia.
Putin, the host, said in a speech that humanistic cooperation forms an important part of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between Russia and China.
The "China-Russia Tourism Year" program, which began last year with the "Tourism Year of Russia" in China, aims to foster tourism ties and humanistic exchanges between the two countries.
It is the third theme year following the "China-Russia National Year" and the "China-Russia Year of Language" held in recent years in the two countries.
Putin said those events have greatly deepened mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples and have consolidated the social basis of bilateral relations.
Both rich in tourism resources, China and Russia boast distinctive features to attract tourists, with China renowned for its oriental elegance and Russia famous for Eurasian-style architecture.
China, a country of a long history and splendid culture, is the third largest destination country for Russian tourists, and bilateral tourism cooperation holds great potential, Putin said, adding the "Tourism Year of China" in Russia would further promote friendship and relations between the two countries.
Xi said China and Russia, sharing a long border, are good neighbors, partners and friends.
"President Putin and I have agreed to identify expanding practical cooperation in various fields as a priority in the development of bilateral ties so as to provide an important driving force of improving the living standards of both peoples," Xi said.
Tourism is a bridge between different civilizations and cultures, said Xi, voicing hope that China and Russia could take the hosting of the tourism year as an opportunity to foster tourism cooperation as a new highlight of bilateral strategic cooperation.
After the opening ceremony, the two presidents, along with more than 5000 audience, watched performance of Chinese artists.
Xi arrived in Moscow earlier in the day for a state visit to Russia, the first leg of his maiden foreign trip since he took over the presidency last week.