Putin ends flurry of diplomacy

Outgoing President Vladimir Putin was rarely out of the spotlight last week. After agreeing to lead the country’s biggest political party, United Russia, on Tuesday, he then flew on to Libya and Italy for talks on trade and politics. He rounded off the we

During a two-day visit to Libya, where he met the country's long-standing leader Muammar Gadaffi, Putin discussed multi-billion oil and gas deals as well as Libya's $US 4.6 billion Soviet-era debt.

To learn more about Putin’s visit to Libya follow the link.

The President then flew to another destination in the Mediterranean for discussions with his old friend and allly, Italy’s Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi.

The talks concluded with assurances of continued good trade and energy relations.

Putin's visit to Sardinia could well have been his last foreign engagement as the country's leader.

To learn more about Putin’s visit to Italy follow the link.

On Friday, Putin flew back to Moscow to meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The President renewed a pledge to support both Israel and the Palestinians in their efforts to end conflict in the Middle East.

To learn more about Putin’s meeting with Palestinian president follow the link.

Earlier, on Tuesday, President Putin agreed to become chairman of the United Russia party, when he steps down from office in May.

To learn more about Putin’s accepting the party invitation follow the link.

In another development on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin ordered greater co-operation with Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia has strongly objected, while Washington and the EU have urged Russia to rethink its position. However, the majority of Abkhazians support closer ties with Russia.

Greater co-operation includes material help to the people as well as co-operation with the republic's authorities. Local branches of the Russian foreign ministry were also instructed to provide consular help to the regions' population.

Georgia strongly opposed the move, and has asked the UN Security Council to call a special meeting over Russia's actions.

The European Union urged Russia to give up its support for the breakaway regions, saying that it hampered efforts to establish peace. On Friday, the United States also called on Russia to rethink its position.

The majority of Abkhazia's population, however, has Russian citizenship and supports closer ties with Russia.

To learn more about the situation in Abkhazia follow the link.