DAMASCUS, Syria, May 10 (UPI) -- Russian companies are showing interest in working on oil and gas projects in Syria, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said before arriving Monday in Damascus.
Medvedev started his first official visit to Damascus as head of state Monday. The Russian president said construction of oil refineries and gas pipelines would be featured on the agenda of his 2-day visit, Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti reports.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov told the official Syrian Arab News Agency before Medvedev's arrival that energy was a key feature of bilateral trade relations between the two countries.
"A main trend in the economic cooperation is currently reflected in the oil and gas projects, including transportation of energy resources, electric power, water and irrigation projects," he said.
Syria is keen to expand its profile in the region, reaching a series of oil and gas agreements with its neighbors in recent years.
Meanwhile, Russian oil and gas company Tatneft announced in April it started crude oil production in Syria, the first time such work commenced for the company outside Russia.
Sultanov added that trade between the two countries reached $2 billion in 2008, quadruple the trade level of 2005.