MOSCOW, June 9 (Reuters) – Guinea’s acting president Sekouba Konate postponed a visit to Moscow this week that was to have included talks with President Dmitry Medvedev, the Kremlin said.
Konate’s talks had been expected to touch on troubles Russian aluminium giant RUSAL has faced in Guinea, which is struggling to hold a June 27 presidential election after decades of harsh authoritarian rule.
“Due to pressing domestic matters that have arisen in Guinea, the Guinean side has requested a postponement of the working visit to Russia,” a statement on the Kremlin website late on Tuesday said.
It did not say when the visit might take place.
RUSAL in April rejected a claim by Guinea’s mines minister that it owes at least $860 million in unpaid taxes and said it aims to “protect its rights”.
The Guinean government has also said RUSAL paid too little for the Friguia bauxite and alumina complex in 2006 and a local court last year ruled that the sale was unlawful.
RUSAL then agreed to establish a joint high-level commission with the Guinean government to discuss long-term cooperation.
A court of appeal in Conakry also overruled the 2009 court decision on Friguia in March, Rusal said. [ID:nLDE63M0HG]
Mining companies have had a rocky time in Guinea since the December 2008 coup that followed the death of ruler Lansana Conte.
Guinea’s Moscow ties date to Soviet times, when it received Kremlin backing after the end of French colonial rule in 1958.
RUSAL also operates the Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK) which develops one of the world’s largest bauxite deposits.
It has a design capacity of 3.1 million tonnes of bauxite per year and delivers more than 2 million tonnes of bauxite per year to Russia’s Nikolaev alumina refinery and more than 500,000 tonnes to other facilities.
(Reporting by Alfred Kueppers)