Putin: Russia ready for FIFA World Cup

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MOSCOW, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprising visit to the ongoing 68th FIFA Congress here on Wednesday, giving a short speech and extending warm welcome to friends coming from all over the world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow, Russia, on June 13, 2018. The 68th FIFA Congress opened here on Wednesday, one day before the first match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia kicked off. (Xinhua/Xu Zijian)

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will kick off here on Thursday evening with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in the tournament opener.

Speaking highly of the "productive works" of FIFA and the Russian people, Putin said that Russia is ready for the World Cup and guarantees the security and convenience for all the fans.

"This World Cup is of great significance to Russia, and the dream has come true for the Russians," Putin said.