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    FRADKOV BEGINS CONSULTATIONS IN DUMA

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    MOSCOW, March 2nd, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Mikhail Fradkov nominated for prime minister has launched consultations in the State Duma.

    At 2 pm, he began his meeting with the biggest Duma faction, United Russia.

    When asked what he expected from this meeting, Mr. Fradkov smiled, "An interesting conversation." State Duma Speaker and leader of the United Russia faction Boris Gryzlov said: "It is important for us to make sure that this candidate will be able to solve the three strategic tasks set by the president and which were also the key issues of the United Russia's election campaign. These are the economic growth, doubling GDP within ten years, and, consequently, eliminating poverty, and modernizing the armed forces." Earlier, Mr. Gryzlov said that the United Russia faction intended to support Mikhail Fradkov's candidacy to the premiership.

    On Tuesday, Fradkov will hold consultations with the Communist, LDPR (Liberal and Democratic Party of Russia) and Rodina (Homeland) factions of the Duma.

    Mikhail Fradkov is looking on the prospects of his appointment with optimism.

    "I have accepted the president's proposal. I am ready to work and I look on the situation with optimism," Mr. Fradkov told reporters on Tuesday upon his arrival from Brussels.

    The State Duma will consider Mr. Fradkov's candidacy on Friday, March 5th.

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