Vladimir Putin points to positive changes in Russia-Sweden relations

Relations between Russia and Sweden have undergone positive changes over the past year, President Vladimir Putin of Russia said as meeting Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson in St.Petersburg, Monday.

The president pointed to an increase in bilateral commodity turnover, by up to $1.5 billion. Yet, he voiced concern over a certain decline in Russian exports which was characteristic of the first quarter year. Mr Putin, however, explained it by temporary seasonal fluctuations.

Vladimir Putin said he was pleased with investment cooperation between the two countries. Swedish businessmen are active in Russia's real production sector, the president said, citing joint production of buses in St.Petersburg as a good example of bilateral investment projects.

Russia was honoured to receive the king of Sweden, recalled the president. The Swedish monarch visited Russia's northern regions, the fact which proves that Sweden attaches priority to cooperation with the Russian north-west, according to Mr Putin.

The premier, on his part, said he hoped for deeper economic interaction between the two countries. Mr Persson said he was pleased with increasingly closer contacts between Russia and the European Union. He noted significance of economic cooperation between the countries of the region.

The Swedish premier praised activities of the Council of Baltic Sea States, and thanked Russian leaders for inviting the heads of state and government of the countries of the Baltic region to join in celebrations of St.Petersburg's 300-th anniversary.

Mr Persson was hopeful his country and Russia would sign a bilateral energy cooperation agreement promptly.

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