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    RUSSIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS CIS FOR CLOSER TIES

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 12, RIA NOVOSTI - To promote integration within the Commonwealth of Independent States, step up bilateral contacts of its countries, and prevent Russian rivalry with the USA and other countries in the CIS area are among Moscow's top priorities for the year, said Igor Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, while in conference with the international affairs committee of the State Duma, parliament's lower house.

    Russian foreign political strategic objectives also include enhancing the United Nations contribution to global developments, encouragement of international team efforts against current threats and challenges-primarily, international terrorism, and buttressing nonproliferation of mass destruction weaponry-in particular, solving the Iranian and North Korean problems.

    To settle regional conflicts in the Middle East, Iraq, Kosovo and the CIS is also an essential task, said Mr. Ivanov.

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