WE want to use nuclear energy for peaceful means, President Edgar Lungu has told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
And President Putin told President Lungu that while Russia and Zambia “established diplomatic relations long ago, the time has come to shift the focus to cooperation in the economy.”
During a short bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of the BRICS heads of state summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday, President Lungu said while Russia was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with Zambia, over the years “this relationship has gone cold, so to speak, not much has been done.”
President Lungu invited Putin to visit Zambia.
“Thank you very much, Mr President. I am very delighted to have this opportunity to meet you. It is a busy day for you, but you find time to meet us. It is an exciting occasion for us because the ministers and our technocrats have been engaging with their Russian counterparts in trying to see how they can scale up our cooperation. Russia was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with Zambia. But over the years this relationship has gone cold, so to speak, not much has been done. We appreciate the historical role Russia played in liberating West African countries. Zambia particularly benefited from bilateral cooperation when it hosted most of the liberation movements,” said President Lungu according to a transcript from the Kremlin.
“We feel now the time has come for us to try to cement the existing relations beyond the point of what has been existing. It is for this reason that I look forward, Your Excellency, to you coming to Zambia one of these days. There are a lot of various cooperation opportunities, and one of the many of them is energy. We want to use nuclear energy for peaceful means. We have signed MoUs with ROSATOM and a few other agencies in Russia, so we look forward to your coming to open a ground-breaking, as you said, nuclear centre.”
Zambia plans to construct a nuclear facility in Chongwe area.
On his part, President Putin stressed the need to shift Moscow-Lusaka relations into the economic field.
“Mr President, colleagues and friends, we are delighted to see you and to have this opportunity to hold a short meeting with you on the sidelines of this major international forum. First of all, I would like to say that we are strengthening the coordination of our foreign policy efforts on the international stage, and that we are grateful to you for supporting Russian initiatives at international platforms, including the UN,” said President Putin.
“We are also developing relations between our parliaments. The speaker of Zambia’s National Assembly recently visited Russia. I am also pleased to say that our executive offices are developing ties as well. Our professionals discuss the possibility of cooperation in high-tech sectors, such as medicine and, more specifically, the fight against cancer. We established diplomatic relations long ago, and the time has come to shift the focus to cooperation in the economy.”