President Vladimir Putin announced Monday that Moscow will soon forgive the debt Ethiopia owes his country. That will make Ethiopia the fourth African country to get the debt cancellation as Russia moves to increase its influence on the continent. Ethiopia’s 163.6 million dollars debt will soon be written off under Russia’s debt-for-development programme, Putin said. Mozambique, Madagascar and Tanzania have already had their debts cancelled under this programme. Putin said that Russia has already written off about 20 billion dollars of debt to African countries that had accumulated during Soviet times. The debt cancellation was made in exchange for privileges such as expanding business opportunities for Russian companies, access to natural resources and building strategic economic ties. "We expect that Ethiopia's remaining debt to Russia will be settled under similar conditions. The relevant draft agreement is currently being elaborated," the Russian president said.
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