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Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and his wife Peng Liyuan exit the plane after landing at the government airport Vnukovo II, outside Moscow, March 22, 2013. Russia is Xi Jinping's first foreign destination as China's president. Xi's talks with Putin on Friday are set to focus on oil and gas as China seeks to secure new energy resources to fuel its growing economy. (Ivan Sekretarev/AP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and his wife Peng Liyuan exit the plane after landing at the government airport Vnukovo II, outside Moscow, March 22, 2013. Russia is Xi Jinping's first foreign destination as China's president. Xi's talks with Putin on Friday are set to focus on oil and gas as China seeks to secure new energy resources to fuel its growing economy. (Ivan Sekretarev/AP)

Morning Briefing: Chinese President Xi Jinping in Russia for first foreign trip Add to ...

A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe’s news desk on March 22, 2013.

New Chinese leader makes first foreign trip

In his first foreign trip as president, China’s new leader Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow today, where he will highlight trade ties and discuss Russian gas exports, The Associated Press reports. After the visit, Mr. Xi will also travel to three resource-rich African nations and will attend the annual summit of the BRICS group of nations in South Africa next week, The Globe’s Geoffrey York reports.

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Conservative ministers promote new budget

Federal ministers begin fanning out across the country today to sell the government’s new budget. Chief among them is Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who is to deliver a speech at the Vancouver Board of Trade defending his plan to eliminate the deficit in two years and introduce a new training grant for workers. After the address, Mr. Flaherty is to travel to Hong Kong and Thailand.

Obama wraps up trip to Israel

On the last day of his three-day visit to Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama today visited a Holocaust memorial and the graves of the founder of modern Zionism and assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Reuters reported. The President also travelling to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah.

Syrian President vows to rid country of extremists

Syrian President Bashar Assad today vowed to rid the country of Muslim extremists and said his troops will “wipe out” and clean the country of “the forces of darkness,” The Associated Press reports. Mr. Assad blames Islamic extremists for a suicide blast inside a mosque in Damascus yesterday that killed 49 people. For more on the bombing, read this Globe and Mail piece by Stephen Starr.

Last-minute talks on Cyprus bailout plan

Lawmakers in Cyprus are putting the final touches today on a plan they hope will convince international lenders to provide the money the country needs to avoid bankruptcy within days, The Associated Press reports. If authorities do not agree on a plan by Monday’s deadline, the European Central Bank has said it will cut off emergency support to the tiny country’s banks.

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