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    SERGEI IVANOV COMPLETES VISIT TO FRANCE

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    MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) - Sergei Ivanov completed his working trip to France and returned to Moscow. A RIA Novosti correspondent says the plane with the acting Russian defense minister landed in Chkalovsky airport outside Moscow.

    During the visit, Sergei Ivanov held a number of meetings and talks. He started his visit with a meeting with his French counterpart, Michele Alliot-Marie. Tete-a-tete talks were held in Saint Jean de Luz, a town in the west of France.

    The defense ministers agreed to conduct joint Russian-French exercises of the navies and air forces in 2004, looked into the possibilities of enhancing interaction in the space sphere. They reached certain agreements in military technical cooperation. In particular, the sides adopted a political decision to start jointly working out a reconnaissance drone. On Thursday evening, the official delegations returned to Paris.

    On Friday, Sergei Ivanov took part in a session of the security cooperation council in Paris, with acting Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov and the French defense and foreign ministers participating. The talks touched upon the main problems, such as the fight against terrorism and extremism and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

    After the talks, Sergei Ivanov said at a joint press conference that Russia and France have almost the same opinions of these problems.

    Igor Ivanov and the French defense and foreign ministers also held a meeting with French president Jacques Chirac.

    After the meeting, Sergei Ivanov gave French Armed Forces Chief of Staff Henri Bentegeat the Russian state award, the Order of Friendship. Then the Russian delegation left Orly airport for Moscow.

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