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    IN 2004 RUSSIA AND FRANCE TO HOLD JOINT NAVAL EXERCISE - FRENCH DEFENCE MINISTER

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    SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ /FRANCE/, MARCH 4. /RIA NOVOSTI / -- This year Russia and France will hold a joint naval exercise, French Defence Minister Michele Allio-Marie said on results of her meeting with Russian acting Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov.

    "The sides have set high store by the results of the joint exercises of the Russian and French navies. The Russian side has proposed holding a similar exercise also this year", Sergei Ivanov said in turn.

    To him, the upcoming manoeuvres "will be like last year's in scope".

    The French defence minister said that the sides have agreed to hold before 2004 a joint naval exercise within the framework of the birthday of the Normandy-Neman air regiment, in which Russian and French pilots together fought against Nazis.

    In the period from June 5 through 15, 2003 a joint Russian-French exercise was held in the sea of Norway with the participation of submarines and surface ships for checking the truth of the Russian draft agreement on the safety of submarine navigation beyond the territorial waters.

    Participants in the exercise were the Casablanca nuclear submarine and the Latouch Trevil antisubmarine ship of the French Navy, the K-157 nuclear submarine and the antisubmarine vessel the Admiral Chabanenko of the Russian Navy.

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