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Putin, Xi set to meet on opening day of Beijing Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month, Moscow said on Friday.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month, Moscow said on Friday.

“We are preparing for an official Russian-Chinese summit,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference.

Lavrov said the talks on February 4 would not just be between Putin and Xi, but would also feature “full-scale negotiations at the highest level” of the two governments.

The face-to-face between two of the world’s most powerful leaders will be in stark contrast to the diplomatic boycott of the Games announced by the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and several other countries due to human rights concerns.

The Netherlands on Friday joined the list of nations not sending government representatives.

The Foreign Ministry told the ANP new agency the decision was based on the fact that no Dutch spectators are allowed to be present due to Covid-19 rules.

A ministry spokesperson also noted the coronavirus rules make it difficult to arrange bilateral talks during the Games to address “major concerns about the human rights situation.”

The US cited China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” referring to the crackdown on the Uighur population and other ethnic and religious minority groups in the region.

While top officials will be kept away, athletes from the boycotting countries will still compete in Beijing.

Russia as a nation is banned from participating at these Olympics after their role in a huge doping scandal, but Russian athletes are able to compete under a neutral flag.

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