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    COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA IS KYRGYZSTAN'S TOP PRIORITY

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    BISHKEK, March 10, 2004. (RIA Novosti). The partnership with Russia remains a top priority of Kyrgyzstan's foreign policy, reads the statement by the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry issued on Wednesday following its extended session with Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev.

    The document says that Kyrgyzstan aims at further consolidation of relations with key Asian states, China, Japan, Iran, India, Pakistan, South Korea and Malaysia. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry also assigns priority to the developments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The opening of a Russian airbase in Kant (Kyrgyzstan) in October was one of the central events in 2003. Kyrgyz and Russian Presidents Askar Akayev and Vladimir Putin attended the opening ceremony. The heads of state also held talks on the security consolidation in Central Asia.

    Kyrgyzstan also intends to develop cooperation with western countries. "Due to cooperation within the anti-terrorist coalition, all the leading western countries, including the USA, Germany, Great Britain and France, became Kyrgyzstan's main foreign policy partners in 2003," the statement says.

    The talks between Askar Akayev and new Chinese President Hu Jintao during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Moscow in 2003 were an important event for Kyrgyzstan. (The Shanghai Cooperation Organization includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan).

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