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    Somalia invites Russian firms to develop uranium deposits

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    Somalia hopes Russian companies will take part in the development of uranium deposits, and oil and natural gas production, the Somali ambassador to Russia said Friday.

    MOSCOW, June 27 (RIA Novosti) - Somalia hopes Russian companies will take part in the development of uranium deposits, and oil and natural gas production, the Somali ambassador to Russia said Friday.

    "Today we say: let's cooperate. Somalia is a very rich country, this is the main basin of oil and gas on the territory of the Horn of Africa," Mohamed Handule told a RIA Novosti press conference.

    Handule said prospecting for uranium deposits had been carried during the Soviet era.

    "Somalia believes that production of this uranium is a prerogative of Russian firms, stemming from former intergovernmental agreements with the U.S.S.R.," he said.

    Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991, and a transitional government established with UN assistance in 2004 has failed to gain control over the country.

    The ambassador also referred to a project to build a space center in Somalia. "A space center in Somalia could be used as an international space center, a site that could supplement Baikonur," he said, adding that rockets with telecommunications satellites on board could be launched from there.

    The Baikonur space center, built in Kazakhstan in the 1950s, was first leased by Russia from Kazakhstan under an agreement signed in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russian officials have repeatedly said Russia will continue to use the Baikonur launch site until at least 2050.

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