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MOSCOW, March 22 (Itar-Tass) – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is confident that Russia and the South African Republic can build up the volumes of trade and mutual investment manifold while Russian businesses will continue expanding their presence in South Africa.
“Russia and South Africa have old ties of friendship and mutual respect,” Putin said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass.
“Multifaceted cooperation is developing between our countries, with constructive political dialogue established at the highest level, between governments, ministries and agencies,” he said. “Inter-parliamentary, interregional, business and humanitarian contacts are consistently expanding.”
“During the visit to South Africa we certainly hope to give new impetus to our bilateral relations,” Putin said. “The adoption of the Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Russia and South Africa is being prepared; it will confirm the new quality of our relations, determine key areas of joint work in the future.”
He indicated that Russia and South Africa plan signing a number of important intergovernmental and interagency documents in Durban, including a declaration on strategic partnership, agreements on cooperation in the energy sector and agriculture, and some other documents.
“Trade and economic cooperation will be in the focus of our attention during negotiations,” Putin said, adding that the volume of trade between Russia and South Africa grew by 66% and reached $964 million in 2012, while the relevant figure for 2011 was $580 million.
“Big Russian businesses, including such companies as Renova, Norilsk Nickel, Evraz Group, Basic Element, Severstal, Renaissance Capital and Vnesheconombank are actively entering the South African market, they are interested in further expanding their presence in South Africa,” Putin said.
“Russia and South Africa can significantly, by many times, increase the volume of bilateral trade and investments, the number of mutually beneficial projects in the mining sector, power industry (including nuclear power), space exploration, military and technical sphere,” he said.
The president also noted the importance that Moscow attaches to development of cooperation in the field of education and culture by strengthening direct ties between universities, promoting the studies of Russian language in South African educational institutions, organizing film festivals and tours of leading arts professionals, as well as exchanging museum exhibitions.
“We will discuss practical steps to achieve these goals with President Jacob Zuma,” he said.