Russia foreign minister leaves for working visit to Turkmenistan

Russia foreign minister leaves for working visit to Turkmenistan

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday leaves for a two-day working visit to Turkmenistan to discuss ways to expand economic ties and boost trade turnover between the two states, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry said, Itar-Tass reported.

The program of the visit includes meetings with Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rashid Meredov. "The sides are expected to discuss prospects for broadening mutually beneficial economic ties, boosting trade turnover, encouraging cooperation between Russian regions and Turkmenistan," Andrei Nesterenko said.

"Russia highly appreciates its relations with Turkmenistan. It attaches great importance to further strengthening and developing mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation and cooperation in the political, trade and economic, cultural and educational and other spheres," the diplomat said.

"The sides will exchange their views on topical international problems, on the situation in Central Asia, on issues of close cooperation between Russian and Turkmen foreign ministries. Russia believes that the visit will promote further strengthening of traditionally friendly Russian-Turkmen relations, developing of fruitful cooperation," Nesterenko stressed.

Russia is Turkmenistan's biggest foreign economic partner. The trade turnover between the two states (minus gas supplies) was 910.2 million U.S. dollars in 2008, and 832 million U.S. dollars (minus gas supplies) in the first nine months of 2009, which was 30 percent up. Russia's basic exports to Turkmenistan include machines, equipment and transportation vehicles, metals and metal products, foods and agricultural raw materials. Russia imports from Turkmenistan textiles, footwear, chemicals, including rubber, machines, equipment and transportation vehicles.

The core of cooperation between the two countries is the gas industry. Turkmenistan is second after Russia in terms of gas exports on the post-Soviet territory. According to estimates, Turkmenistan's potential gas reserves amount to 11 to 24 trillion cubic meters, which makes Turkmenistan fifth in the world. Turkmenistan's gas is pumped to Russia via the Central Asia-Center gas pipeline with the annual capacity of more than 50 billion cubic meters. That is why the subject of laying new pipelines is topical for both countries.

On March 4, the two presidents, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan, in a telephone conversation discussed "preparation of contacts for the nearest future." The two heads of state also discussed preparation for an informal summit of the CIS heads of state to be held in Moscow on May 8, joint participation in the festivities in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the V-Day, and plans for the Turkmen president's visits to Russian regions," the Kremlin press service said.

Berdymukhamedov once again invited Medvedev to pay an official visit to Turkmenistan, the press service said, adding that the terms of such visit would be agreed upon by the two countries' foreign ministries.

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