A WELL DRILLED TOWARDS REPAYMENT OF RUSSIA'S DEBT TO FINLAND

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HELSINKI, February 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russian specialists have completed the drilling of the deepest well in Finland. Nikolai Gusev, chief of the drilling unit, said this at a press conference in Outokumpu (North Karelia), which was chosen for the drilling site.

Kai Vasti from the Finnish Geological Service said that the well's parameters fully meet the requirements. The well is 2,516 m deep.

The project is being implemented within the framework of an agreement between the two countries' governments in March 2003 to partially offset the former USSR's debt to Finland. Under the agreement, the debt is to be cut by $25 million.

Russia's debt to Finland amounts to about $500 million. The well drilling project cuts it by about 7 million euros. Since 1995, Russia has repaid over $250 million of the former USSR's debt to Finland.

The deep drilling project in Outokumpu became the largest project carried out in Finland with Russian specialists' participation.

"Successful completion of the project to drill the deepest well in Finland for research purposes shows, first, possibilities for scientific and technical, and innovation cooperation between the two countries and, second, the need to work out joint approaches to the implementation of hi-tech projects capable of enhancing the competitiveness of our research organizations and business,' says a press release published by the Russian trade mission in Finland.

The Outokumpu project and other results of Russian and Finnish organizations' work show the need for such cooperation," the press release stresses.

"The results of Russian-Finnish cooperation in 2004 permit our countries to look at prospects for our bilateral cooperation with optimism," the press release reads.

Russia is strengthening its positions among Finland's major trading partners. Tentative 2004 results show that Russia was second in the amount of Finnish imports (about 13%) and third in its exports (9%).

By thepreliminary data, Russian-Finnish mutual trade amounted to about 9.6 billion euros last year (as against 7.8 billion euros in 2003), an increase by 22%.

Russia's exports to Finland increased by 21%, to about 5.3 billion euros, and imports - by 24%, to nearly 4.3 billion euros.

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