Thursday, December 15, 2005

Putin Seeks to Raise Russia's Profile in Asia
Putin Seeks to Raise Russia?s Profile in Asia


Russian President Vladimir Putin will be seeking this week to raise his country?s profile in Asia and help Russia grab a larger share of the region?s fast-growing energy and technology markets.

On Tuesday, a day ahead of the first East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, Russia has signed a joint declaration with the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as a complex program on the development of cooperation for 2005-2015.

Russia has been invited to the summit as an observer with a view to deepening ties.

The declaration includes strengthening of partnership, cooperation in politics and security, cooperation in economic and social development. Russia and ASEAN have agreed to hold regular summits together.

Business leaders said Russia?s invitation to take part in a summit that groups Japan, China and South Korea with ASEAN nations and India, Australia and New Zealand ?- but excludes the United States ?- is viewed by the Kremlin as an opportunity to broaden political and economic ties.

Yelena Danilova, director of foreign economic relations at Russia?s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, was quoted by Reuters as saying Russia?s policy was ?diversification. We have to balance our energy policy because we have a lot of partners.?

?We are talking about creating a new framework in this region in terms of energy, transport and technology,? Alexander Zakharov, deputy chairman of Russian savings bank Sberbank, said.

Georgy Petrov, vice president of Russia?s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Russia?s share of ASEAN trade was less than 1 percent. But he added more cooperation would allow Moscow to rekindle alliances with Soviet-era partners such as Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as building new trade links with others.

Danilova added that Russia had plans ?to develop our resources in eastern Siberia and to provide oil and gas to Asia, and through Asian markets to the United States?. Russia was keen to encourage projects in the ASEAN region to which the private sector should supply no less than 30 percent of the finance required, she added. ?For what is usually funded by national budgets, we?d like to attract private sector investors,? she said. As well as oil and gas, agriculture and the food industry would be important areas of cooperation, she said.

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