Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Xi Jinping was the only world leader who celebrated his birthday in an effusive interview with Chinese state television that signifies the growing closeness between the two sides.

Putin who is attending the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Qingdao this weekend, was keen to heap praise on Xi, calling the Chinese leader a “Reliable partner and good friend” and boasting about their special personal rapport.

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Putin was reminiscing about an Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit in Bali, Indonesia in October 2013 during which he celebrated his 61st birthday.

Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS reported that at a late-night meeting Xi had presented Putin with a cake while the Russian leader pulled out a bottle of vodka for a toast.

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Since rising to power in 2012, Xi has visited Moscow more than any other capital city in the world and met Putin more than 20 times.

During his last trip in July, Xi was awarded Russia’s highest state order, the Order of St Andrew, with Putin hanging an elaborate medallion around his neck.

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