Slovenian Minister says Russian debt to Slovenia could be settled soon

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MOSCOW, July 14 (RIA Novosti, Olga Protasenko) - The former Soviet Union's debt to the Slovenian portion of former Yugoslavia could be settled soon, according to Dimitrij Rupel, Slovenia's foreign minister and OSCE chairman.

"This is a technical problem which, in my opinion, will be resolved soon," Rupel said during his trip here.

Rupel said he had discussed the issue with his Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Russia's debt to former Yugoslavia is $1.292 billion. Slovenia accounts for $206.7 million.

Rupel said Russia and Slovenia have great potential for bilateral cooperation and pointed to the high level of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

In 2005, bilateral trade will aggregate about $1 billion. In 2004, it was $920 million.

"I think that Russian-Slovenian cooperation is at a good level and is continuing to develop," Rupel said.

Rupel also said the two countries had good opportunities for promoting cooperation in many spheres, including culture.

"This is a sphere where Slovenia wants to boost cooperation with Russia," Rupel said. "We have set up a forum of Slavic cultures comprising 10 Slavic countries.

"The forum's headquarters is in Ljubljana and many of the forum's initiatives will be linked with culture."

Rupel said the forum would contribute to Russian-Slovenian cultural exchange.

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