PRESIDENT Medvedev's relations with his prime minister - the former President Putin - may not be altogether harmonious but he appears to be very active on his own account. This week he has been visiting Egypt, Nigeria, Namibia and Angola in Africa. It is almost three years since the then President Putin visited South Africa and Morocco and during this time China has continued its very active policy of making friends and trading partners with many African countries. Russia's recent relative lack of interest may have something to do with lessons learnt from the Soviet Union's political involvement during the 1970s when providing support to Marxist movements in Africa took precedence over economic considerations. At that time there were some 35'000 Soviet advisers in Africa and in addition Moscow footed the bill for transporting 20'000 Cuban troops there. The dividend was never very apparent and, in any case, disappeared with the end of the Soviet Union. Now talks in Cairo are about a ten-year strategic co-operation pact under which the two countries will co-ordinate foreign policy positions and press for a multipolar world order - a new Kremlin concept which is probably intended to limit America's global role. Tourism is also on the agenda; Egypt is one of the most favoured destinations for Russians in search of the sun, with two million visitors last year. There will have been less politics and more trade talk, especially about oil and nuclear energy in the other countries Medvedev has visited.
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