Putin, Sassou-Nguesso Discuss COVID-19, Libya, Investment

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By Kester Kenn Klomegah

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s readiness to provide COVID-19 aid to the Republic of the Congo during his phone call with the Republic’s President Denis Sassou-Nguesso July 6.

“Vladimir Putin noted Russia’s readiness to provide aid to the Republic of the Congo to counter the coronavirus infection spread,” the Kremlin announced.

During the first week of July, Russia itself was battling more than half a million coronavirus cases, the fourth global spot after the United States, Brazil and India.

Republic of the Congo recorded 1557 coronavirus cases since the epidemic began, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, it reported 44 deaths and 501 recoveries.

Russia is very vociferous in tackling the political conflict in Libya. It has been mapping out possibilities of South Africa (as the chair of the African Union), Egypt being a close neighbouring state that could be involved in finding solution to Libyan crisis. Now Congo is the chair of the African Union’s High Level Committee on Libya.

“Considering the Congo’s presidency in the African Union’s High Level Committee on Libya, the sides exchanged opinions on the situation in the country. The sides underscored the necessity of peaceful resolution of the conflict through political dialogue involving all Libyan sides.”

The president of the Republic of the Congo congratulated Vladimir Putin on the outcome of the nationwide vote on the amendments to the Russian Constitution.

“The sides discussed the pressing issues of bilateral cooperation in the context of implementation of agreements, achieved during the highest-level talks in Moscow in May 2019,” the Kremlin said, adding that the two leaders agreed to continue their contacts.

Last year May 23, the business talks between Putin and Sassou-Nguesso took place in the Kremlin. According to the Kremlin report, the package of documents signed following the talks included intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and mass communications.

The documents also concern the settlement of the Republic of the Congo’s debt to the Russian Federation under previously issued loans, cooperation between the Russian Interior Ministry and the Congolese Ministry of the Interior and Decentralization, cooperation in agriculture, and sending Russian military experts to the Republic of the Congo.

In addition, documents on the relations between LUKOIL and the State Oil Company of the Republic of the Congo as well as between TMK (Pipe Metallurgical Company) and the National Petroleum Company of the Congo were signed.

The Pipe Metallurgical Company (TMK) is Russia’s leading pipe manufacturer. The project is to build a major oil pipeline, running more than 1,300 km from the port city of Pointe-Noire in the Republic of the Congo to the border with Cameroon.

Congo, with an estimated 5.3 million population, is located in the central-western part of sub-Saharan Africa, along the Equator. It has become the fourth largest oil producer in the Gulf of Guinea, providing the country with a degree of prosperity despite economic instability in some areas and unequal distribution of oil revenue nationwide.

The country has a large untapped mineral wealth, large untapped metal, gold, iron and phosphate deposits. In 2018, the Republic of the Congo joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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