Moscow Steps Up Foreign Policy In African Direction

Moscow steps up its foreign policy in African direction. Russia is prepared to develop mutually beneficial relations with all African countries, both big and small, Russia's Foreign Ministry informed RIA Novosti. Meanwhile, experts note, in early 1990s Russia weakened ties with developing countries and lost its political positions on the African continent. The situation started changing of late. Having assessed the consequences of the "withdrawal" from Africa, Russian leaders stated the need to restore contacts with African countries on a new reciprocal basis with due regard of pragmatic interests. Over the last six weeks the Russian President met in the Kremlin with President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria. President Omar Bongo of Gabon arrives on an official visit in Moscow on Monday. According to experts, prospects of cooperation development with Africa comprise natural resources development, geology, construction, fishing, wood-working, agriculture and other economic spheres. Experts note that a number of factors, including difficulties of the transition period in Russia and economic restructuring in many African countries, as well as narrow domestic market and low purchasing ability of most of the continent population, have an impact on the state of political and trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Africa. In early 1990s these factors were supplemented by another problem, i.e., settlement of the African states' debt to Russia. Experts see the future of the Russian-African relations in multilateral development of mutually beneficial economic ties. Orienting towards a perspective and using political means Russia strives to contribute to democratic process in Africa and participate in settlement of existing and prevent potential conflicts.

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