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    RUSSIA, CHINA COME TO TERMS ON MILITARY ISSUES

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    BEIJING, March 16 (RIA Novosti) - At the Russian-Chinese defense consultations in Beijing the parties came to an agreement on a broad range of issues, diplomatic sources told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

    The parties announced their readiness to make efforts to further develop cooperation between the countries' Armed Forces, according to the sources.

    The eighth round of consultations was attended by the first deputy Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Yuri Baluyevsky, and the deputy Chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, Xiong Guangkai.

    The Russian and Chinese militaries exchanged their opinions on regional and international security problems, topical international issues and discussed major directions of cooperation between the two countries' armies and other issues.

    Official Chinese sources reported that the participants of the consultations agreed that the development of cooperation between the Russian and Chinese Armed Forces was an important aspect of strategic interaction between Moscow and Beijing.

    The Russian side hopes to expand consultations with Chinese partners on the most important international and regional problems, Mr. Baluyevsky said at the consultations.

    The consultations also touched on the visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov to China including the date of the visit and the range of problems to be discussed by the Russian and Chinese ministers. The visit is to take place in the first six months of 2004.

    On Tuesday, Mr. Baluyevsky also met with Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan. The Chinese minister said that his country would actively promote Chinese-Russian military cooperation. Cao Gangchuan also pointed out that the two countries' had significantly developed their strategic interaction.

    The Chinese minister praised relations between the Russian and Chinese Armed Forces. He described cooperation in the military sphere as fruitful and said that the spheres of cooperation needed to be expanded so that "bilateral military relations could reach a new stage."

    Mr. Baluyevsky also pointed out that military links between Russia and China will continue expanding.

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