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Monday, 06 July 2009 23:44

Nigeria: Nigeria-Russia Set to Sign Nuclear Deal

Lagos, June 20 (This Day) - Nigeria and Russia are to sign a nuclear energy cooperation accord next Wednesday when President Dmitry Medvedev becomes the first Kremlin leader to visit Nigeria, officials said.

A joint venture between Russian oil and gas giant Gasprom and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will also be signed during the one day visit, Nigerian presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said, hailing what he called a "historic" visit by Medvedev.

"It will be the first ever visit by the head of state of the Russian Federation to Nigeria," said Adeniyi.

Adeniyi said the nuclear agreement "is for cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy especially for the purpose of electricity."

Russia and Nigeria signed an agreement on March 18 this year to cooperate in building nuclear reactors in the West African country and jointly explore for uranium.

The protocol "foresees the possibility of bilateral cooperation for the development of Nigeria's nuclear infrastructure" and the "joint exploration and exploitation of uranium deposits," Russia's nuclear energy agency Rosatom said.

Nigeria believes there is "much to gain from closer ties with Russia given its oil and gas industry," the spokesman said.

Russia's envoy to Nigeria, Alexander Polyakov, said Medvedev was invited by President Umaru Yar'Adua following talks on the sidelines of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised powers in Japan last year.

Polyakov said "international issues would be on the agenda but primarily, the visit would be about bilateral cooperation. We would like to give a very strong political impetus to our interraction in different fields.

"First of all in the area of economy and investment awe would aim to bring the Russian /Nigerian partnership to a completely new level. Maybe it can be in strategic partnership," he said.

Polyakov said Gasprom chief executive Alexei Miller was expected to accompany Medvedev on the one-day visit.

"Other potential areas of cooperation will also be discussed, including military and technical cooperation," said the diplomat, who added that there was already "huge" and growing cooperation between the two countries.

Polyakov quoted Nigerian statistics as saying that the volume of bilateral trade went past 1.5 billion dollars last year and was still rising this year despite the economic crisis. (END/2009)

 
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