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News // Oil and gas worldwide

Russia and Nigerian open trade talks

07 March 2001 , 11:44491
6 March 2001

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo held talks today in the Kremlin on boosting trade in the first top?level meeting between their large, oil?producing nations.

Obasanjo's delegation was also to meet Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and arms export officials, and observers predicted the three?day visit would result in weapons deals.

Putin praised Obasanjo's work toward economic and democratic reform in Africa's most populous nation. Obasanjo's election in 1998 ended nearly 16 years of military rule that left Nigeria US$30 billion in debt.

"We know of your efforts toward democracy," Putin said at the start of the meeting.

The delegation, which includes Nigerian Defence Minister Gen Theophilus Danjuma, was to visit the Hammer and Sickle steel plant in Moscow and meet officials from natural gas monopoly Gazprom and arms export giant Rosoboronexport.

The Interfax news agency said the visitors would view military aircraft and artillery systems at the military town of Kubinka, outside Moscow.

The presidents were also expected to discuss the costly, long?stalled Ajaokuta steel plant in central Nigeria, Russian news reports said. The plant was built by the Soviet Union but has yet to start production, and is linked to corruption charges against Obasanjo's predecessors.

Obasanjo's government has emphasized plans to revive Nigeria's steel industry and complete the Ajaokuta plant, likely with Russian help.

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