Putin discusses Russia’s interest in Namibian uranium with Geingob

NAMIBIAN President Hage Geingob has told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that those who want to use Namibian uranium are welcome.

During bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on Wednesday, President Geingob told his host that energy was the biggest problem and issue that “we can discuss”.

“Uranium we have, we don’t use it ourselves. Our friends who can use it, can come and call [on us] as law [provides] as we said earlier,” he said. “But before that I must thank you for not leaving our country in a serious trouble, and you came to our aid, so thank you very much. About uranium, yes, we are uranium producing country and we will be welcoming those who would like to come and use it.”

President Geingob said for him and other Namibian freedom fighters who fought against colonialism, Russia had always been there, “where our people were oppressed.”

“So those of us from Namibia, SWAPO Party, although its name has changed, it was the Russian people, who were welcoming us, taking care of us, sharing the trenches in Africa,” he said. “Difficult times for some of them. So I am very honoured to meet you, we are glad to renew now the relationships. During the difficult times we were together. Now it is time when our old friends can come and see how we can cooperate in what we are calling as our second phase of the struggle, that of economic emancipation. So I am glad to say that already our military people instructed me to say they want to have Russian military advisors and so on, to start with.”

President Geingob said Namibia-Russia bilateral relations were good, but not as good as they could be given the old relations the two had.

On his part, President Putin noted that next year would mark the 30th anniversary of independence of Namibia and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Over these years, an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust has formed between our countries. We appreciate the Namibian leadership’s position of support of our initiatives at the UN, as well as of Russian candidates at various international organisations,” he said.

President Putin said political dialogue was developing, and that there was a positive trend when it comes to trade and economic ties.

He said trade grew more than seven times last year and that there were good prospects in an entire range of fields.

“This includes energy. Exploration of mineral resources, in particular, Namibia’s uranium resources, can become an important part of our cooperation. Russia is the fifth largest producer of uranium raw material in the world,” President Putin said. “Russia, as a world leader in nuclear energy and nuclear fuel production, and Namibia, as a major uranium producer, could establish close cooperation and become good partners. Such spheres as joint exploration of fields potentially rich in vanadium, copper, gold and other minerals is also quite an interesting area of cooperation. We have a legal basis for this.”

He recalled that in 2016, Russia and Namibia signed intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in geology and mineral resources as well as a memorandum of understanding between Zarubezhgeologiya and a Namibian company.

“We also have potentially interesting offers in the diamond industry. Our largest diamond producer, Alrosa, is ready to host a Namibian delegation in Moscow to discuss matters of mutual interest,” President Putin said.

He said there were also interesting prospects in transport.

President Putin said United Wagon Company was negotiating with a Namibia firm to upgrade railways and supply freight cars and spare parts.

“Construction of surface facilities for air travel can also be economically advantageous. Our companies are interested in working together in hydropower engineering. We are ready to promote cooperation in the field of agriculture, for example, to import Namibian food products, such as meat and fish,” said President Putin. “We hope to organise counter trading of our animal products to Namibia and to expand our exports of grain and fertilisers.”

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