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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Raffarin Touts Tech Over Wine, Cheese

APFrench Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin shaking hands with a gas-masked mannequin Tuesday at a Russian-French technology exhibition at Krasnya Presnya.
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin wrapped up a two-day visit to Russia on Tuesday with the opening of a Russian-French technology exhibition in Moscow.

"France is known as a country of cheese and wine," Raffarin said at the exhibition opening. "I want to present it as a country of highly advanced technology and industry."

Improving business ties -- in particular in the aviation and energy sectors -- topped the agenda during Raffarin's visit to Moscow. Raffarin met Monday with President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and other officials.

Putin told Raffarin that Moscow was dissatisfied with the level of trade between the two countries. He noted, however, that bilateral trade had grown 33 percent over the past six months.

French and Russian companies signed a number of cooperation agreements during Raffarin's visit.

French energy giant Total said Tuesday it clinched a deal with state-owned Rosneft to explore and develop the Tuapse Depression in the Black Sea, a step which bolsters its position in the country's oil industry.

French power company Electricite de France and Russia's Interros holding company on Monday signed a memorandum on collaboration in the Russian energy sector.

French engine maker Snecma Moteurs and its Russian counterpart NPO Saturn agreed to develop a new generation engine for new warplanes, including unmanned combat aerial vehicles. The memorandum of understanding to develop an engine was also signed by fighter maker Sukhoi and state arms agency Rosoboronexport. The companies are currently working together on the development of the SM-146 engine for new Russian Regional Jet jointly being developed by Sukhoi and Boeing.

Top executives of Gazprom and Gaz de France also met in Moscow to discuss cooperating in the development of European gas infrastructure and Russian natural gas supplies to Europe, Gazprom's press service said.

Other issues of possible cooperation included the construction of the multi-billion-dollar Northern European pipeline under the Baltic Sea, and the development of the liquefied natural gas market. Also on the agenda was Aeroflot's participation in Air France/KLM's air alliance and a year-old deal on European aircraft manufacturers ordering components from Russian companies.

(AP, MT)