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    Turkmen leader pledges to boost energy cooperation with Russia

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    Turkmenistan's new president met with the Russian premier Thursday and said he will be working to boost energy cooperation with Russia.

    ASHGABAT, February 15 (RIA Novosti) - Turkmenistan's new president met with the Russian premier Thursday and said he will be working to boost energy cooperation with Russia.

    Turkmenistan holds the world's fifth-largest natural gas reserves and substantial oil resources. It is the second gas-rich republic in the former Soviet Union after Russia, which controls the transit route for Turkmen gas exports to former Soviet republics and Europe.

    "I think Russian-Turkmen relations will be further consolidated in all areas, including the energy, oil and gas sectors, and in the humanitarian sphere," Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said at a meeting with visiting Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

    A former health minister and deputy prime minister, Berdymukhammedov was elected president Sunday. He replaced authoritarian President-for-Life Saparmurat Niyazov, who ruled the country for 21 years and died of heart failure in late December 2006.

    Fradkov thanked Berdymukhammedov for finding time to meet with the Russian delegation, and said Russia expected the new Turkmen leader to continue the policies of his predecessor. The premier said he hoped both sides would meet their obligations.

    "We share a common approach to nearly all issues, and we have agreed to stick to the earlier reached agreements," Fradkov said.

    In September, Turkmenistan raised the gas price for Russia from $65 per 1,000 cubic meters to $100 for the period of 2007-09. The parties also agreed that by July 1, 2009 they would negotiate an adjustment depending on European gas prices for long-term deliveries, Russian energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] said.

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