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    LAVROV TO MEET WITH 3 EU LEADERS IN APRIL

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    MOSCOW, March 17, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - A meeting between three leaders of the European Union and Russia will take place in the beginning of April in Ireland, said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

    Earlier, the meeting had been planned for March 11 in Dublin but was postponed because a new foreign minister was appointed in Russia.

    The Irish foreign minister (Ireland holds the rotating chair of the EU), High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and EU Commissioner for External Relations Christopher Patten will participate in the meeting.

    Mr. Lavrov pointed out that Russia maintains intensive contacts with the EU on key problems. "They are connected with EU expansion and the extension of its rules to the countries that are about to join," said Mr. Lavrov.

    Mr. Lavrov said that these changes "directly concern Russia's trade interests. We are talking about it openly with our partners from the European Union." He also noted that a new date had already been scheduled for his meeting with three EU leaders.

    Mr. Lavrov said that simultaneously, the economic ministries are working on appropriate agreements on the expansion of the EU that would satisfy all the sides. He said that this would be done before the end of this April.

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