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Russian, South Sudanese defense ministers discuss cooperation projects

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with his South Sudanese counterpart Chol Thon Balok to discuss promising cooperation projects and exchange views on regional security issues

MOSCOW, September 29. /TASS/. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu met with his South Sudanese counterpart, Chol Thon Balok, to discuss promising cooperation projects and exchange views on issues of regional security, the Russian defense ministry said on Friday.

"On September 29, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergey Shoigu held a meeting with South Sudanese Defense Minister Chol Thon Balok, it said, adding that the topics for discussion included cooperation projects and current issues of regional security.

"The sides noted the importance of partnership between the Russian and South Sudanese defense ministries to ensure security and stability in Central Africa. They also agreed on further joint steps toward developing bilateral relations in the military sphere," it said.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his visiting South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, to discuss the development of bilateral cooperation in various areas, as well as issue on the regional and international agenda.

South Sudan, which was part of Sudan until 2021, borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, the Central African Republic and Ethiopia. The country has a population of 12.4 million.

Kiir, 72, has been serving as the head of state since South Sudan became an independent state in the summer of 2011. He is also prime minister, the supreme commander-in-chief, and the leader of the ruling party.

South Sudan is among the world’s poorest countries, with its GDP being 7.3 billion US dollars in 2022. Exports of crude oil via two pipelines running across the territory if neighboring Sudan account for more than 90% of the country’s budget revenue. Although 83% of the population are employed in the agricultural sector, farming is underdeveloped and the country imports food from neighboring countries, primarily from Uganda. Transport infrastructure is underdeveloped as well, with only 67 kilometers out of 6,500 main and 8,500 secondary roads being asphalted.

However, the country has rich reserves of natural resources. It is the third among the African countries south of the Sahara in terms of oil reserves. It also has uranium, gold, silver, iron, copper, diamond, limestone, chromium, zinc, tungsten, mica.