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Russia-Hungary talks to focus on economic partnership

Business and economic ties will be at the center of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány when the two leaders meet at Putin's dacha by the Black Sea next Monday, said business daily Világgazdaság. Among Gyurcsány’s entourage will be József Gráf, Hungary's farm minister, who is expected to sign a partnership agreement with his Russian counterpart, said the paper quoting its own "unofficial information". Focus will fall on the energy sector as well as opening up Russia's market to Hungarian firms, particularly in health, farming, education and housing. The two countries concluded ten bilateral agreements, including a memorandum of agreement on medium-term economic co-operation during Putin's official visit in late February this year. Hungarian exports to Russia have averaged growth of 30-35% over the past few years, notes the paper. Analysts told Világgazdaság that Russia is developing ties with the view to making Hungary its gateway into Europe. Energy giant Gazprom will have a role in creating 1.2 billion cubic metres of Hungary's strategic gas reserves as well as commercial storage, experts told the paper. Another heavyweight topic on the agenda is expected to be Hungary involvement in the extension of the Blue Stream natural gas pipeline. Finally, Russia's government is giving its backing to Boris Abramovich's bid to take over Hungary's national air carrier Malév. (Mti-Eco)