9 Mar 2010 19:25

Putin calls for closer ties with Sweden

MOSCOW. March 9 (Interfax) - Russia and Sweden need to develop bilateral economic and political ties, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.

"It is necessary to do everything possible to expand mutual investment flows. The Russian government will be willing to support any ideas that would help develop our trade and economic ties," Putin said at a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Tuesday.

Putin noted that Reinfeldt's visit was the first by a Swedish prime minister to Russia in ten years, and that there had been very little political contact between the two countries over the past several years.

"However, economic ties have been developing and reached nearly $9 billion in 2008, although there has been a drop by nearly 40% during the crisis," he said.

Russia and Sweden signed five agreements during Reinfeldt's visit, and these documents strengthen the legal basis of bilateral cooperation, Putin said.

Putin said also that he was aware of negotiations with Sweden on energy cooperation.

Reinfeldt recalled his previous meeting with Putin during a summit attended by European leaders in Lahti, Finland in 2006.

"We also mentioned the fact that actually ten years have passed since a Swedish prime minister's last visit to Russia. True, we surely have issues on which our opinions differ, but this is why visits and dialogue are needed, and they are needed to settle issues," Reinfeldt said.