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27.04.2015 Africa

Russia and AU seek new opportunities for trade, investment cooperation

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Moscow, April 27, GNA - The African Union Commission Chairperson H.E (Dr), Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergei Lavrov, are set to hold formal diplomatic talks focusing on Russia's interest in strengthening its multifaceted ties with Africa.

An official statement issued to the media said during the upcoming April 29 talks, Lavrov and Dlamini Zuma will discuss a wide range of issues relating to the interaction between Russia and the African Union, and to exchange views on topical international and regional issues.

The agenda of the talks also included finding ways to increase the volume of Russian-African trade and investment cooperation, connecting domestic business structures for the implementation of major infrastructure projects in the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

Based on the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding political consultations between the Russian Foreign Ministry and the African Union Commission, Russia and the African Union intend to discuss current issues and outline concrete steps to improve cooperation.

The two sides will exchange views on key issues of global and African concern, including crisis settlement and post-conflict reconstruction in Africa and the situation in the Middle East.

Attention will also be paid to the problems of conflict resolution on the African continent, particularly in southern Sudan, Mali, the Sahara and the Sahel region, the Central African Republic, the DRC and the Great Lakes region.

Diplomatic relations between Russia and the African Union has been on the rise. In September 2014, Lavrov and Dlamini Zuma signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the AU on the mechanism of political consultations.

In January 2015, the special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and African countries and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Mikhail Bogdanov, attended the 24th Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

At the 24th Session, Bogdanov delivered a special message from the President of the Russian Federation, H.E. Vladimir Putin, confirming Russia's interest to further strengthen its ties with Africa.

In his message, President Vladimir Putin commended the constructive role of African countries. "We support the efforts of the African Union in facilitating mutually beneficial integration processes, ensuring sustainable social and economic development of the continent and resolving local conflicts."

President Putin wrote about the strong positive relationship between Africa and the Russian Federation, citing the meaningful political dialogue and active collaboration in international affairs.

He also noted the measures taken by Russia to write off a significant part of the debt of African countries and the preferential treatment of most of the traditional African export goods in Russia that has opened up new opportunities for trade, economic and investment cooperation.

"The number of scholarships offered by the Russian Government," his letter stated, "is on the rise, and Russian experts are participating in the training of African peacekeepers."

The AU Commission Chairperson expressed gratitude for the solidarity message from President Putin.

She also indicated the readiness of the AU to further strengthen ties with the Russian Federation. In this regard, she will be pursuing an earlier decision to open an AU Representative Office in Moscow.

(From Kester Kenn Klomegah, GNA Special Correspondent, Moscow)

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