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    ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WELCOMES RUSSIA'S READINESS TO OPEN EU MISSION IN NORTH CAUCASUS

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    MOSCOW, February 4, 2004. /RIA Novosti/. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has welcomed Russia's readiness to open a mission of the European Union in the North Caucasus.

    "Russia is ready to open a EU mission in Chechnya and we welcome this," the Italian minister said following the talks with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov.

    The mission can be located in Grozny, the Chechen capital, or in Ingushetia (a neighboring republic). It has not been decided yet, Frattini noted.

    The minister also welcomed Russia's readiness for political settlement in Chechnya.

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