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    EU COMMISSIONER MEETS WITH PRESIDENT OF TAJIKISTAN

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    DUSHANBE, March 17, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - On Wednesday, Chris Patten, the EU commissioner for external affairs, met with Emomali Rakhmonov, the President of Tajikistan. "I have come to Tajikistan to underscore the importance of relations between the European Union and your country," Mr. Patten told journalists after the meeting.

    Mr. Patten said that within the framework of the EU-Tajikistan partnership and cooperation agreement, the EU could give much assistance to Tajikistan. "We hope that the President will be able to come to Brussels this summer for the official signing of this agreement," Mr. Patten said.

    The EU is going to "help Tajikistan to build a democratic civic state with prosperity for its people," he said. "The EU believes that, having reached certain level, Tajikistan will become a strong partner of the EU in the struggle against the common enemies - terrorism and drugs trafficking."

    As regards the upcoming parliamentary elections, the EU commissioner expressed confidence that the parliament and the people of Tajikistan will make every effort to ensure the elections are fair and honest.

    Over the last decade, the EU has given Tajikistan grants totalling 350 million euros. The amount of money to be allocated to Tajikistan in the future "depends on the results of talks between the EU and the government of Tajikistan," Mr. Patten said.

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