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Russia Cancels Algeria's $4.7 Billion Debt

Algerian President Abdelazziz Bouteflika (right) escorts Russian President Vladimir Putin today in Algiers (epa) March 10, 2006 -- Russia has written off Algeria's $4.7 billion debt.

An agreement to that effect was signed today in Algiers, where Russian President Vladimir Putin is on an official visit.

Putin today met for more than three hours with his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Russian media say the talks were initially scheduled to last one hour.

The two men were expected to discuss economic ties and the political situation in the Middle East.

Putin is traveling with a large delegation that includes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, LUKoil chairman Vagit Alekperov; Gazprom chief executive Aleksei Miller, and Mikhail Dmitriyev, the head of the federal agency responsible for military and technical ties with foreign countries.

LUKoil and Gazprom have said that they hope to sign memorandums of understanding with Algeria's national oil and gas company Sonatrak.

(ITAR-TASS, Interfax)

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