President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warmly welcomed his French former counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy back to Russia, addressing him as "dear Nicolas" and fondly recalling their joint work.
Sarkozy, who is in Russia on a private visit to take part in an investment awards ceremony, was received by Putin at the Russian strongman's Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.
"Dear Nicolas, I am very happy to see you, I am very happy that you found the time to come to Moscow," Putin told Sarkozy, who left office in May following his defeat to Francois Hollande in presidential elections.
"I remember with pleasure the time when we worked together on quite serious problems linked to the development of relations between our countries, between Russia and Europe and other acute problems," said Putin.
Putin told Sarkozy that he was "very happy" to confirm that relations between France and Russia were continuing to develop under the presidency of Hollande.
"Thank you for inviting me, Vladimir, I remember very well the time we spent here," said Sarkozy in the brief first few minutes of the meeting that were open to the press.
"You are right to remember the friendly and difficult moments that we experienced. Each time we were able to overcome them because there was confidence and friendship."
Putin frequently stays in touch with former colleagues even after they have left office, most notably former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who he counts as a friend and who attended his inauguration in May.
© 2012 AFP
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