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    PARIS SATISFIED WITH RUSSIAN-FRENCH BUSINESS CONTACTS

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    PARIS, March 5, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Russian and French foreign ministers "are maintaining a regular and close dialogue" that "fully meets" the French interests.

    Spokesman for the French foreign ministry Herve Ladsous said this in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti.

    According to him, the Friday meeting between Dominique de Villepin and his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov, which was held on the eve of the session of the Russian-French security council, was part of this dialogue.

    M. Ladsous said the Russian and French foreign ministers regularly spoke on the phone to discuss all the pressing international issues, in particular those related to the UN Security Council, with Russia and France being its permanent members.

    The spokesman for the French foreign ministry recalled that the council, which includes foreign and defence ministers of the two countries, is meeting for a third time. He also remarked that the council was set up to foster strategic partnership between France and Russia on international security.

    The session of the council is considering major security issues, including nuclear non-proliferation, in particular the draft agenda of the UN Security Council summit and also major regional issues: European security, Iran, Lybia, North Korea and South Asia.

    M. Ladsous noted that the Russian and French foreign ministries closely co-operated in all areas of the UN Security Council and other organisations' activity, for example the OSCE. As an evidence, M. Ladsous cited co-operation in the fight against drugs within the Paris Pact.

    This document was adopted at foreign ministers' conference on Afghanistan's drugs, that took place in Paris last May.

    The official spokesman for the French foreign ministry said, "the fight against terrorism is a subject of regular consultations and intensified interaction between our countries. This dialogue touches upon an entire set of anti-terrorist issues." M. Ladsous also noted that France's presidency in the G-8 in 2003 made it possible to boost our ties and set up an anti-terrorist group to promote political will and international opportunities in this area.

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