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    FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER TO PAY A WORKING VISIT TO RUSSIA

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    MOSCOW, JANUARY 22, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT SERGEI ZELENTSOV). French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin will arrive in Russia for a two-day working visit on Thursday.

    The Russian and French foreign ministers will meet on Friday, January 23 to discuss the relations between Russia and the EU. The Russian foreign ministry reported that the sides will consider the implementation of decisions of the St. Petersburg and Rome Russia-EU summits.

    "The point at issue will be the formation of four common environments. Russia supports the desire of Paris to play the role of an 'engine' as is the case with Russian-French agreements, above all on the freedom of citizens' movement, and to show what inter-state relations within the borders of Greater Europe may and should become in the 21st century," specified the agency's interlocutor.

    Igor Ivanov and Dominique de Villepin will also discuss the topical international problems, including the situation in Iraq and the Middle East.

    "The approaches of Russia and France to these problems coincide in many respects. Such closeness of stands is not accidental. It is explained by the adherence of the two countries to the multipolar model of the world order, where the central role belongs to the UN and its Security Council as the main guarantor and instrument of maintaining international security and stability," the Russian foreign ministry stressed. According to the agency's interlocutor, it is precisely within this framework that many other important issues, such as combating terrorism, non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons, and various aspects of globalisation will be discussed.

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