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    MOSCOW, January 5th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - The Russian Foreign Ministry has assessed the adoption of the new Constitution in Afghanistan as an essential prerequisite for the realisation of the Bonn agreements. Zamir Kabulov, spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry and deputy chief of the South and Southwest Asia Department of the Russian foreign ministry, said this to RIA Novosti.

    "We hail the new Constitution adopted by Loya Jirga," he said. "The new Constitution lays a legal basis for Afghanistan's further state development, including for the presidential elections slated for June 2004," Kabulov said.

    The diplomat emphasised that Moscow saw Afghanistan as a priority of Russia's foreign policy "in many criteria." "This is a fairly large region where we have economic interests - Central Asia, West and South Asian countries. Afghanistan is the shortest route for goods and services' transit," he said.

    According to Mr Kabulov, the counter-terrorist and anti-drug aspects are remaining the utmost priority. But the situation is getting back to normal. But as soon as the Afghan economy begins to work and Afghanistan's transit opportunities are realised, "the economic aspect will come to the foreground." Kabulov has been appointed Russia's new ambassador to Afghanistan.

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