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Opening Remarks at a Meeting with President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan

April 10, 2003, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin: I am happy to welcome you in Moscow. Unfortunately, our meeting is taking place against the background of a tragedy in Dagestan. I have just spoken with the Chairman of the Dagestan State Council. He told me about the details of the tragedy. Of course, we will do all we can to help the victims and their families. But work is work, and we have to follow the agenda of your visit.

At the start of our meeting I would like to say that our friendly relations with Turkmenistan are marked by the businesslike character of our cooperation. There have recently been some serious and very welcome events, beneficial to the economies of both our countries. A Gazprom delegation has recently visited Turkmenistan. I know that you have received our delegation and provided practical guidance for the talks, and we are poised to sign a number of very important agreements in this sphere.

But we believe that not only cooperation in the economic and energy spheres, but also in other areas is interesting and important. I very much hope that your visit will give a good impetus for the development of our contacts in all the areas of interest to us.

April 10, 2003, The Kremlin, Moscow