Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday that General Motors made the right decision to sell a 55 percent stake in Opel to a group led by Canada's Magna.

I hope this decision is one of the first steps that will lead us to true integration in the world community, Putin told academics and reporters from the Valdai discussion group at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.

GM made the right decision while taking into account the social consequences, Putin said.

Under the Magna deal, Detroit-based GM will retain a 35 percent stake in Opel, with Magna and its Russian partner, state-owned bank Sberbank, taking 27.5 percent apiece, and workers the remaining 10 percent.

Magna and Sberbank made their bid on overcoming the crisis though not forgetting the possible social consequences. Their proposal guarantees that jobs will be kept, Putin said.

Putin noted that Magna and Sberbank are in talks with trade unions, though he conceded that some optimisation was still possible.

When asked about the state of Russia's economy, the former Kremlin chief said the authorities would not allow the excessive strengthening of the rouble.

Putin, who served as Russian president from 2000 to 2008, said the government had made a mistake in the years before the 2008 crisis by spending too much and allowing excessive foreign investment to flow into the country.

He said those flows had fuelled inflation and driven appreciation pressure on the rouble.

It was very difficult to fight calls to spend more and more when we had the money, Putin said.

At the moment the task is to restore our macroeconomic indicators, to lower the pace of inflation without allowing the appreciation of the national currency on the scale that happened in previous years, Putin said.

(Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya, writing by Gleb Bryanski; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)