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Russia, Syria Agree To Boost Cooperation

25 January 2005 -- Following a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Kremlin today, Russia announced it would write off $13.4 billion of Syria's Soviet-era debt.

Putin said after his meeting with al-Assad that the problem of Syria's debt to Russia was resolved.

Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said Russia would forgive 73 percent of Syria's debt, accumulated during the Soviet era when annual bilateral trade reached nearly $1 billion.

Kudrin said Syria still owed $3.6 billion.

Representatives of the two countries also signed agreements on cooperation in the gas and oil industry, construction of a plant in Syria for the production of pipes, an international agreement on motor services, mutual protection of investments, and other economic issues.

Both sides said prior to al-Assad's arrival in Russia that the subject of Russian sales of Igla shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles would not be on the agenda during al-Assad's trip.


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