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The resource-rich West African state of Congo plans to attract infrastructure investment from Russia, President Denis Sassou Nguesso told Russian media.

“We plan to develop co-operation in all areas: hydrocarbons, agriculture, minerals, logging and education and training,” he said to RIA Novosti.

Sassou Nguesso, who first became the leader of his country in 1979, was originally a committed Marxist, and relied on the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991.

He still thanks the USSR “for fighting for the freedom of the people of Africa,” and speaks warmly of the thousands of Congolese who studied and married in the Soviet Union. However, he realizes that the relationship had to be rebuilt anew, following wide-scale political and economic transformations in both countries.

Sassou Nguesso believes the foundation was laid during an official meeting with Vladimir Putin in November 2012.

“These extraordinarily important talks allowed us to re-launch our partnership,” he said. “A new stage has started and in the coming month an inter-governmental Russia-Congo commission will meet. As a result of these sessions we hope to establish new concrete aims and projects.”

The veteran politician, who won his fifth presidential term in 2009 and will be in office until at least 2016, is encouraged at the idea of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) providing an alternative source of support for the continent’s growth, apart from the IMF and the World Bank.

The five countries recently announced plans to start a development bank that will offer funding for African states.

Sassou Nguesso, who served two separate terms as the chair of the African Union, two decades apart, speaks warily of “colonialists” and believes that only through closer integration with each other will African powers be able to project a voice onto the world stage.

“All countries are trying to join large blocs, and Africa, which was divided by outside forces, cannot ignore this process.”

But for the moment, his focus remains on bringing prosperity to his own country, with a population of 4 million. It endured a devastating civil war in the late 1990s, and is nestled next to the troubled Central African Republic.

“Our country holds all the cards we need to modernize. Now, me and my countrymen must make sacrifices and make an effort to realize that potential,” said Sassou Nguesso.
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