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Putin urges Turkey to maintain high level of trade


SOCHI, May 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has urged Turkey to sustain the high volume of mutual trade achieved in recent years.

At a press conference after talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Saturday, Putin said bilateral trade increased almost 50% in 2008 to $34 billion.

"Investment cooperation also demonstrates strong rates, and our goal is to sustain this pace," Putin said.

The premier said that bilateral relations have developed swiftly since Russia and Turkey signed a political declaration five years ago, with the aim of bringing cooperation to the level of an advanced partnership.

"Much has been done, but we do not intend to stop at this level, and are determined to work to bring Russian-Turkish relations to a higher level," Putin said.

The premier said Russian companies are prepared to participate in building four nuclear reactors in Turkey. Russia is currently taking part in a tender to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

"We are discussing the possible participation of our companies in building four large reactors," Putin said.

He also said Russia and Turkey have agreed to immediately start talks on prolonging a gas supply contract expiring in 2011, and to negotiate on a second leg of the Blue Stream natural gas pipeline.

Russia supplied Turkey with 23.8 billion cubic meters of gas in 2008, including 10 billion cu m through the Blue Stream pipeline linking Russia to Turkey under the Caspian Sea. This year the figure is expected to rise to 25.5 billion cu m.

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