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    VILNIUS ASSURES THAT AWAKS FLIGHTS IN LITHUANIA THREATEN NO NEIGHBORING STATES

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    VILNIUS, February 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Vitautas Mikulicus) -- Linas Linkavicus, National Defense Minister of Lithuania stated that AWAKS aircraft flights in Lithuania did not threaten neighboring states.

    Local mass media quoted Linkavicus as stating that "the aircraft arrived only to demonstrate its technical capabilities and for that reasons it could not pose a threat to neighboring states." A NATO reconnaissance aircraft AWAKS will stay from 22 to 24 February at the Lithuanian military base Zoknai near the city of Schauliai. The aircraft will arrive to Lithuania from Latvia. On Friday Russian foreign ministry expressed regret that NATO refused a Russian observer to take part in flights of the AWAKS aircraft in Latvia and Estonia.

    Representatives of the Russian foreign ministry stated that "the fact could not but give rise to regrets as it contradicted the "Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security Between Russia and NATO."

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