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Russia, South Africa Sign Partnership Accord

Russian President Vladimir Putin with South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki (epa) September 5, 2006 -- Russia and South Africa have signed a "friendship and partnership" accord.

The agreement was signed following talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and South African President Thabo Mbeki in Cape Town today.

Putin's two-day visit to South Africa is the first by a Russian head of state.

The trip is seen as part of a drive by Russia to reassert its influence in Africa and also forge close ties between the two countries in the mining and metals sectors.

At a joint news conference with Mbeki, Putin said one Russian metals production company -- which he did not name -- was planning to invest more than $1 billion in extracting manganese ore in South Africa. He also mentioned planned investments into the aluminum industry and the energy sector.

The two countries also signed a number of cooperation agreements, including an agreement on space technology.

Putin's visit is also expected to include a trip to the Robben Island prison, where former President Nelson Mandela spent 18 years as a prisoner during South Africa's apartheid years.

(ITAR-TASS, Interfax, AFP, AP)

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