Russian president Vladimir Putin is hopeful that the visit by the Ethiopian prime minister to Moscow will give a new impetus to the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. The Russian head of state said as much in his opening speech at the Kremlin negotiations with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Monday. According to Mr Putin, Ethiopia is Russia's long-standing partner and the relations between the two countries have more than a 100-year-long historical record. We are keeping a watchful eye on reforms in Africa and understand how difficult it is to lay the basis for economic development and preserve political stability in the country, said the president. In turn, Meles Zenawi expressed gratitude to Russia and its people for their support of Ethiopia. Several generations view friendship between Russia and Ethiopia as a generally recognised fact, he remarked. Zenawi also expressed the hope that bilateral cooperation would continue developing and get back to the Soviet-time level and even further. In his words, an agreement to be signed upon the end of the current negotiations will contribute to the purpose.