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    RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER LEAVES NEW YORK ON MONDAY

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    NEW YORK, March 13 (RIA Novosti correspondent Andrei Loshchilin) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the former Russian ambassador to the UN, will leave New York on Monday and will take up his new duties on Tuesday.

    "My new colleagues are waiting for me and I should go into the questions they are currently solving," Mr. Lavrov said at a function marking the end of his work in New York. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, ambassadors of over 100 countries and many journalists came to the Russian mission on Friday to bid him farewell and wish him success on the new post.

    According to Mr. Lavrov, working in New York he could communicate with almost all members of the world community every day. "The UN teaches you to reach consensus satisfying almost everyone. Consensus helps to solve many problems. Fortunately my predecessor Igor Ivanov managed to form national consensus on foreign policy issues. Today we have no serious contradictions concerning Russia's policy and national interests. My new works starts on a very firm basis," the minister said.

    Russian foreign policy will always be based on national interests, Mr. Lavrov stressed. "Each country should defend its national interests as it thinks proper, however, it should observe international law and its obligations. Russia defends its interests in accordance with international agreements, its rights and duties. If someone dislikes Russia's actions, we are ready to discuss it openly. As far as I remember, Russia has never acted in violation of international law in the world arena," the Russian Foreign Minister said.

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