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Russian President Wraps Up Visit To Saudi Arabia --> Putin speaks to business leaders on February 12 (ITAR-TASS) February 12, 2007 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin met today with nearly 200 Saudi and Russian businesspeople in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh.

In his first visit to the country, Putin announced Russian plans to launch six Saudi-made information satellites for Saudi Arabia this year.

Putin also called for greater energy cooperation between the world's top two oil exporting nations.

"We know all too well how fast the world economy is developing and how much energy it needs now and will need in the future," he said. "And that means that [Russia and Saudi Arabia] are not competitors but allies, not competitors but partners in the development of the world's energy markets."

He later held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz, who is also defense minister.

Putin's visit to Saudi Arabia comes as the traditional U.S. ally is opening up to other countries.

Putin is on a three-day Middle East tour aimed at strengthening economic, energy, and military ties in the region.

He is headed later today to the gas-rich emirate of Qatar, which is also home to the headquarters for the commanders of U.S. forces in the Middle East.

(Reuters, Interfax)