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Russian President Vladimir Putin met with a group of German businessmen in St. Petersburg
Putin told the businessmen that the rates of Russian economy growth this year totaled 5.5%, which was somewhat lower than in other countries.The president said Russia intended to continue talks on early repayment of part of its state debt to the Paris Club of creditor nations. "We are satisfied that we managed to agree with the Paris Club, first of all with the German partners, on repayment of part of the debt. We are interested in this work if it is advantageous for both parties, and will continue conducting such talks," he said. Putin said Russia and Germany were now more interested in economic cooperation. He added that in 2004, trade turnover had totaled a record high - over $23 billion, while for the four months of this year, it had grown by another 50% in comparison with the same period in 2004. He said 3,500 enterprises with German or mixed Russian-German capital operated in Russia, while the volume of accumulated German investments in Russia's economy was $9.5 billion. Putin said Russian and German businessmen were entering a new level of cooperation, which was shown by the increasing interdependency of the two economies. As an example, he cited the German gas company Ruhrgas's intention to join the project of Gazprom and BASF to build the north European pipeline. The Russian president pointed to prospects of cooperation in the aviation and space research spheres. He welcomed the European partners' decision to interact on the Kourou space center project in French Guiana. The Russian president said an agreement had been concluded with Airbus on component production for Russian aviation industry enterprises. Putin said there were plans to establish a combined aviation corporation in Russia, which "could become one of the biggest participants of the world market of aviation equipment." He said the corporation would comprise both the civil and military elements. The Russian president said he hoped for a positive result in the talks to create car-making manufactures in Russia with German companies' participation. He said the German partners were a bit slow. "The German carefulness should not hinder progress," he said. The Russian president said the Russian-German working group on strategic cooperation in the economy and finances should consider lifting legislative and administrative barriers as well as working on third countries' markets. He added that it should focus on long-term cooperation issues. Putin said Russia and Germany should focus on the high-tech industry. Besides, he said, there were good prospects as regards metallurgy, chemistry and light industry. The Russian president said he hoped the German government would assist Russia in joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Twelve representatives of the leading German companies E.ON AG, Ruhrgas AG, BASF, Siemens AG and others, took part in the meeting
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