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    MOSCOW, March 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- Prime-ministerial nominee Mikhail Fradkov had consultations with the United Russia, Liberal Democratic and Rodina parliamentary groups. They took a bit longer than four hours, all told. "I am satisfied with the talks," he said to a RIA Novosti reporter while leaving the premises of the State Duma, lower house.

    Mr. Fradkov addressed the media to explain what he meant by a "block" arrangement he was proposing for the federal government. As he sees it, a block is to consist of a head ministry, related committees and executive agencies, whose duties will include control, monitoring and assistance.

    The number of ministries must be cut, he repeated his previous call.

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