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    THE COLLEGIUMS OF THE RUSSIAN AND BELARUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRIES TO DISCUSS COOPERATION WITH THE EU

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 2, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI).At the third joint session of the Collegiums of the Russian and Belarussian Foreign Ministries, which will take place in Minsk on Monday, the sides intend to discuss cooperation with the expanding European Union and possible joint steps.

    "The sides will focus their attention on the economic aspects of this problem," the chief of the information and press department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Yakovenko, told RIA Novosti.

    According to him, it is planned to adopt a programme of coordinated actions in the sphere of the foreign policy of the Union State of Russia and Belarus for 2004-2005. The plan for bilateral consultations between the Foreign Ministries for the current year will also be signed. In 2002-2003 some seventy consultations of this kind took place.

    The session will be held in the context of the one-day working visit to Minsk by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

    Alexander Yakovenko noted that perfection of interaction within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States occupies a special place in cooperation between Russia and Belarus in the sphere of foreign policy.

    "Russian-Belarussian cooperation in the international arena is oriented towards accomplishing common strategic tasks and protection and promotion of the interests of Russia and Belarus," underscored the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.

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