Putin offers Russian investment in Guatemala


Guatemala City : Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would urge his country's energy firms to invest in Guatemala and announced that a Russian embassy will be opened soon in Guatemala City.

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"Several Russian companies are interested in making investments in Guatemala in the energy field. I can't say when or how, but in Latin America several Russian companies are working in that field," Putin said during a press conference together with Guatemalan President Oscar Berger Tuesday, Spanish news agency EFE reported Wednesday.

Putin arrived in Guatemala Monday to promote the candidature of the Russian city of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

On the sidelines of the Olympic Committee meeting, Putin and Berger agreed to create a joint Russian-Guatemalan working group charged with "developing and executing subjects of mutual interests in the areas of commercial, technological, cultural, educational and energy cooperation."

"Our political interest in Latin America is growing," Putin announced and added that during the meeting with Berger, they agreed on the need to "open possibilities for developing cooperation in the energy field," including assistance in technology and infrastructure.

Russia is one of the world's leading oil producers and has shown interest in promoting biofuel projects in Latin America.

"Russian companies invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Latin America, and Guatemala, being near Mexico and the United States, could have a potential future" for Russian investment, Putin said.

Putin is the first Russian president to make a state visit to Guatemala since the two countries officially established diplomatic relations in 1945, after the end of World War II.

Official contacts remained "frozen" during the Cold War, but resumed in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In March 1995, Guatemala opened a diplomatic mission in Moscow, but Russia's relations with Guatemala are currently handled from Russia's embassy in nearby Costa Rica, which President Putin promised would soon change.