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    FRANCE: EUROPE NOW NEEDS PARTNERSHIP WITH RUSSIA

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    MOSCOW, January 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, currently on an official visit in Russia, has come out for developing economic cooperation between Russia and the European Union. He said this Friday to teachers and students of Moscow Institute of International Relations of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    In his words, the EU consumes 50% of the Russian export, and Russia's imports will soon account for 20% of the EU's energy supplies.

    As for priority areas of co-operation, the minister cited security, and law and order interaction. "Russia and the EU have common neighbors, and we should join hands to solve crisis situations and observe human rights," he said.

    According to the French foreign minister, "Europe is now expanding eastwards and needs partnership with Russia more than ever." De Villepin believes that relations with Russia should be based on the new reality of modern world. "Russia is called upon to become a pillar of the new world order," he said.

    The French Foreign Minister hailed the deepening cooperation between Russia and NATO, which facilitates mutual understanding. In this connection, he called for joint exercises as part of interaction between Russia and NATO in the interests of peace, which in his words is going through an instability period.

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