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    MOSCOW, March 5, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - The new government is going to raise steeply defense expenditures, Mikhail Fradkov, prime minister nominee, said in his address to the Duma today.

    "Emphatically, we [new government] intend to concentrate on the army reform. To this end, defense expenditures need to be increased to provide for a decent living for the servicemen," he said.

    The prime minister nominee urged the State Duma (lower house) and the Federation Council (upper house) deputies to make "joint effective efforts." "The solution of the tasks facing the new government will require painstaking efforts. We will badly need the State Duma and Federation Council's support. If my candidacy for the premiership is approved, I will ask you to support us in our work," said Mr. Fradkov.

    He emphasized that the new government would have to work hard.

    "But this is the only way out," said Mr. Fradkov.

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