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Sultan of Brunei to meet with Russian PM Putin in Moscow

RIA Novosti

01:50 16/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will meet for talks with the sultan of Brunei, who is currently on an official visit to Moscow, the government press service said.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah held talks on Thursday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev focusing on boosting bilateral trade and developing cooperation in the energy sphere.

Moscow is seeking to increase trade with the southeast Asian nation to $50-75 million over the coming three to five years. Last year the figure stood at $0.8 million, mainly resulting from Russian exports. However, analysts have said mutual trade is unlikely to reach $200,000 this year.

Bolkiah arrived in Russia on Monday and has met with officials from Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport for discussions on the possibility of future arms purchases. Bolkiah was given a multimedia presentation of Russian-made air defense systems and shown a Ka-52 attack helicopter in action.

Brunei has a limited military contingent, comprising ground forces, air force and navy, to counter aggression, terrorism and insurgency. The most combat capable force is the Gurkha Reserve Unit, which serves to protect the sultan, the royal family, and oil installations.

The Royal Brunei Armed Forces use a wide range of foreign equipment, mostly from Britain, France and the United States.

Russian media reports said earlier the government is also seeking access to oil and gas prospecting on Brunei's shelf, amid expert forecasts that Brunei's prospected reserves will be depleted in 15-20 years. The oil and gas sector is controlled by a joint venture of Brunei's government and Royal Dutch Shell.

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