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    RUSSIA HOPES FOR PROGRESS AT NEGOTIATIONS ON NUCLEAR PROBLEM ON KOREAN PENINSULA

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    BEIJING, February 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Russia hopes for a definite progress at the second round of the six-sided negotiations on the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula, said Alexander Losyukov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and the head of the Russian delegation, upon his arrival in Beijing.

    "We do have hopes for progress at the negotiations, but so far they are modest," Losyukov underscored. According to him, "the development of the negotiations will become clear after the first meeting of the delegations." "Russia supported the idea of freezing the DPRK nuclear program immediately after it was put forth last December," the diplomat said. "This idea contains constructive elements, and as a stage in the solution of the problem it can and must be used, from our point of view," Losyukov said. In his opinion, at the same time there are questions of how this idea can be put into practice and what steps will be taken towards the DPRK.

    The deputy minister said that from the airport he would go to meet the head of the Chinese delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss issues connected with the coming negotiations. "The positions of the Russian and Chinese delegations are very close and practically coincide," Losyukov said.

    He added that the Russian delegation would conduct on Tuesday similar consultations with the delegations of the United States, North Korea, Japan and South Korea.

    The second round of six-sided negotiations will open in Beijing on February 25.

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