Russian FM in Nigeria to check progress on energy deals

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan during a visit aimed at checking progress on energy deals sealed last year between the two countries.

"I'm visiting to continue our very close cooperation with Nigeria, to check out the agreements reached last year when President (Dmitry) Medvedev visited," Lavrov told reporters.

In a first visit by a Kremlin leader to Nigeria last year, the two countries signed a raft of agreements with Russian gas giant Gazprom unveiling plans to link vast reserves in Nigeria to Europe via a Trans-Saharan pipeline.

Medvedev then said Russia was ready to invest billions of dollars in Nigeria as Moscow flagged up its bid to challenge Chinese and Western influence across Africa.

The agreement signed between Gazprom International and the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation established a 50/50 joint venture in oil, gas, gas processing and transportation.

The 4,128-kilometre (2,565-mile) long Trans-Saharan gas pipeline will run to Europe from Nigeria via Niger and Algeria.

Nigeria holds the largest gas reserves in Africa but lags behind Algeria and Egypt in production levels.

Russia is also negotiating to build a nuclear power plant in Nigeria as the broad agreement would allow for the construction of a nuclear station and a research reactor.

Lavrov said his one-day long trip was also to "discuss many other avenues of our cooperation and I'm very satisfied with the talks with the president".

"He's keen on promoting our cooperation further. This absolutely meets our expectation," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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