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    AMERICAN EXPERT DOES NOT EXPECT NEW PRIMIER TO CAUSE COMPLICATIONS IN RUSSIAN-AMERICAN RELATIONS

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    MOSCOW, March 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Under the new government in Russia, the course toward a positive development of Russian-American relations in the sphere of energy will be preserved, said Edward Morse, an American energy expert, in an interview with RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

    Mr. Morse said that Russia and the United States could achieve significant progress in the sphere of energy industry investments and the creation of joint ventures.

    While commenting on the nomination of Mikhail Fradkov as prime minister, Mr. Morse expressed confidence that the change of the head of the Cabinet of Ministers would not alter the general course of the government that the president had set and that all of the positive tendencies would be preserved.

    Now Russia is going through a good period and is able to appreciate the possibilities of its fuel and energy complex, noted Mr. Morse.

    He added that the U.S. could estimate the place, which Russia occupies on the vast energy market.

    Oil and gas exports from Russia will increase this year. Therefore, the American side would like to consider the Russian government's strategy with regard to the energy sector in greater detail, pointed out the American expert.

    Last year, the United States imported an average of 149,000 barrels of Russian oil a day. According to official data, that figure is 75% more than in 2002. Russia did not deliver oil to the United States in 2001.

    In 2003, Russia was the 12th largest oil exporter to the United States as compared to 14th largest in 2002. Saudi Arabia exported the most oil to the U.S. last year - an average of 1.7 million barrels a day.

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