Russia-Africa Summit sees desire for closer partnership

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Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a forum under the framework of the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, on Oct. 23, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Russian and African leaders expressed readiness to strengthen economic, trade and security cooperation at the first Russia-Africa Summit that concluded on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and top officials from more than 40 African countries explored areas of further cooperation during the two-day event held in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi with the Russia-Africa Economic Forum at the same time.

Putin said Russia prioritizes developing relations with African countries and organizations, and he proposed holding Russia-Africa meetings at the level of heads of state every three years and political consultations of foreign ministers annually.

Doubling trade

At the plenary session of the economic forum, Putin called on Russia and Africa to double bilateral trade to over 40 billion U.S. dollars in the next four to five years.

Integration processes developing in Africa represent additional opportunities for cooperation between Russia and Africa, he said, adding that Russia will do its utmost to link African free trade zones with the Eurasian Economic Union through expanding trade missions and providing support to businesses.

African countries are attracting more attention from Russian businesses and Moscow will support Russian companies who plan to increase their presence in the continent, Putin said.

"The development of close business ties meets our common interests, contributes to the sustainable growth of all our states, helps to improve the quality of people's lives and solves numerous social problems," he said.

Major projects

In a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Putin said Russia plans to invest 190 million dollars in infrastructure development projects and will attract up to 7 billion dollars.

Sisi said his country wants to accelerate the implementation of the Russian Industrial Zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone and speed up the construction of a nuclear power plant in Egypt.

At talks with Namibian President Hage Geingob, Putin said exploration of mineral resources, particularly Namibia's uranium, can become an important part of bilateral cooperation.

Geingob said his country welcomes foreign partners in the uranium industry.

Russia and Ethiopia signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The document laid the legal groundwork for Russia-Ethiopia cooperation in the nuclear energy industry and the possible construction of a center for nuclear science and technology in Ethiopia.

Security promise

Putin said Russia as a permanent member of the UN Security Council will continue to work to strengthen peace and stability in Africa and to ensure regional security.

He said Russia attaches importance to creating joint efforts against terrorism and extremism. Also, Moscow plans to intensify contacts and exchanges with African counterparts in law enforcement and other related areas.

Russia will help African countries train military personnel and law enforcement officers, and provide African counterparts with a wide range of weapons and equipment, part of them for free, he said.

Russia plans to deliver 4 billion dollars worth of weapons to Africa in 2019, said Alexander Mikheev, director general of Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport on Wednesday here.

Russia is implementing contracts on military equipment deliveries to 20 African countries, including Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique and Angola, he added.

"In the 1990s, many ties with African countries were lost. Now we are witnessing a process of restoring them," said Igor Gerasimov, professor at St. Petersburg State University.

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