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    AZERBAIJAN, RUSSIA TO SIGN DOCUMENTS ON ECONOMIC AND HUMANITARIAN ISSUES

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    MOSCOW, February 2, 2004. / RIA Novosti correspondent Natalia Gorbunova /. During the visit of Azerbaijan's president to Russia, the sides are expected to sign a number of documents of economic and humanitarian character. Vice-premier Victor Khristenko made a statement to this effect at the president's meeting with members of the Cabinet held in the Kremlin this Monday.

    Vladimir Putin asked the Cabinet members about preparations for the forthcoming visit.

    In Khristenko's words, the most favourable climate has been created for Ilkham Aliyev's visit to Moscow.

    "Trade and economic relations /between Russia and Azerbaijan/ are on the rise," Khristenko said. According to his data, the two countries' trade grew by 70 percent in 2002, and by another 40 percent in 2003.

    The vice-premier pointed out that Russia was Azerbaijan's major trade partner. He also noted that the parallel energy systems were functioning successfully.

    In addition, Khristenko continued, Russian oil companies work successfully developing Caspian oil resources in the Azeri sector. "Our agreements on the division of the Caspian seabed are being transformed into concrete projects," he said.

    In Khristenko's words, Russia ensures normal gas supplies to Azerbaijan: in 2004, Baku declared its demand for more than 5 billion cubic metres of gas.

    The vice-premier also said that a medium-term programme of cooperation in the humanitarian sphere was being prepared for signing. --

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