"Russia closely follows the developments in Kyrgyzstan and attaches significance to the strengthening of allied and partner relations with it. It is also willing to move towards developing such relations with all the countries in the region," the president said speaking at the first Russian-Kyrgyz investment forum in Bishkek on Thursday.
It is also necessary to expand economic ties between the two countries, increasing trade turnover and the inflow of Russian investments in that country, he said. "Industrial cooperation must be expanded, money needs to be put into the development of agriculture, and work needs to be done on drawing investments jointly in the Kyrgyz transport and energy sectors," he said.
Putin also encouraged Kyrgyzstan to develop relations with Russian regions.
"Twenty Russian regions are currently cooperating with Kyrgyzstan, and the restoration of earlier existing ties is becoming the priority, which makes our partnership mutually beneficial," the president said.
He also urged Russian businessmen to be more active in investing in the Kyrgyz economy.
Russian businessmen should support efforts made by the Kyrgyz president and government to draw Russian investment, he said.
Meeting with Kyrgyz President Akayev earlier, Putin said, "We expect that the forum will provide a good incentive for the development of business ties between our countries."
He said trade turnover between Russia and Kyrgyzstan grew some 29% in 2003.
Interfax, October 23, 2003