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Putin hosts CIS states leaders before summit
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10:26, February 22, 2008

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Russian President Vladimir Putin met on Thursday his visiting counterparts from some member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) at his residence near Moscow, on the eve of an unofficial summit of the former Soviet member's bloc.

The summit, slated for Friday in Moscow, is also expected to be Putin's last presence on multilateral occasions as president before the March 2 election, in which his appointed successor, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is widely expected to secure a landslide.

PRESIDENTS' MEETINGS

Putin told his Kyrgy counterpart Kurmanbek Bakiyev that he is satisfied with the current progress of bilateral relations, noting the trade volume has grown 40 percent and exceeded one billion U.S. dollars, Russian news agencies reported.

"We enjoy great prospects in two-way investment in such fields as ore mining and the production of crude oil and natural gas," Putin was quoted as saying with the Central Asian state leader.

Bakiyev hailed bilateral relations, as well as surging bilateral trade and investment.

"The main thing is that Russian corporations and investors are getting engaged in the Kyrgy economy and we've received some results already," Bakiyev said.

In his meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, Putin asked the two countries to further energy and military cooperation.

"Of course, we shall discuss bilateral relations, first of all energy cooperation," Putin said in the talks.

Rakhmon, in his turn, appreciated Putin's contribution to the development of the strategic partnership between Russia and the Central Asian state.

The meeting between Putin and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilkham Aliyev was "good, meaningful and warm," said Putin's aid Sergei Prikhodko.

The two heads of states spoke highly of bilateral relations, pledging to expand commercial and economic cooperation, Itar-Tass cited Prikhodko.

The two sides, however, did not discuss the issue of a Russian radar station in the Caucasus nation, which Moscow has offered to join a United States missile shield in exchange of a proposed radar station in the Czech Republic.

Washington has planned to deploy anti-ballistic components in East Europe, including interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, but confronted with fierce opposition from Moscow that says regional balance and security will be broken.

In another meeting, Putin and his Georgian counterpart Mikhail Saakashvili expressed hope that the relations between the two countries could be improved in the foreseeable future.

"In a number of areas our relations are showing a tendency towards improvement," Putin told Saakashvili in the presidential residence of Novo-Ogaryovo, west off Moscow.

Saakashvili confirmed his willingness to restore good-neighborly relations with Russia that were damaged due to the Caucasus nations' close ties with the West, particularly its NATO bidding, Russia's economic embargo and allegedly supports to Georgia's breakaway regions.

"Russia and Georgia simply must restore normal relations and overcome the difficulties that arose in the past," said Saakashvili, who narrowly win a snap election in January and then voiced readiness to improve ties between Tbilisi and Moscow.

SUMMIT TO FOCUS ON ECONOMY

The CIS unofficial meeting will discuss the future of the Moscow-dominated bloc, as well as economic and social policies such as migration and transport, according to a senior Kremlin official.

"One of the most pressing themes is ...(to) further CIS development and fulfill the plan of main events (that were adopted at a CIS summit in Dushanbe on Oct. 5, 2007)," Itar-Tass quoted the anonymous high-rank official as saying.

The presidents will focus on economic interaction, one of CIS priorities that were aimed at increasing competitiveness and accelerating the social and economic progress of the member states.

They will also discuss a comprehensive development and modernization of the transport infrastructure in CIS member states, said the official.

CIS, formed after the Soviet collapse in 1991, groups 12 of the former 15 republics of the Soviet Union, except three Baltic nations.

The lax organization has pledged to establish a free trade zone in accordance with relevant principles and norms of the World Trade Organization.

Source:Xinhua



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