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    ST.PETERSBURG, 24 January, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent/. -Russian Transport Minister Sergei Frank held talks with Finland's Transport and Communications Minister Leena Luhtanen in St.Petersburg on Saturday.

    "We discussed prospects for pooling the two countries' efforts in developing ice-breakers of a new generation. These ice-breakers will boast not only a reliable ice-breaking performance but also a capacity to eliminate the effects caused by accidents in shipping operations," Sergei Frank told journalists after the talks.

    Russia's Transport Minister expressed hope that in the first half of 2004 the Russian and Finnish sides would complete coordination of their respective approaches to the general concept of the project. "We would also like to work out an effective financial structure so that in 2005 we could actually start building these vessels," said the head of the Russian Transport Ministry.

    Sergei Frank pointed out that development and construction of the new generation ice-breaker is a very costly project. "Experts estimate implementation of the project at tens of millions of US dollars," the Minister said.

    Implementation of the project involves close cooperation of Russian and Finnish shipbuilders. "There is no doubt that the potential of shipyards both in Finland and Russia (primarily, those of St.Petersburg) should be used to full advantage," Sergei Frank emphasized.

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