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    RUSSIAN SENATORS HAIL RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY CONTINUITY

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 17 (RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT MARIA BALYNINA) - The Federation Council (the upper chamber of Russian parliament) welcomes today's declaration by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the invariability of the strategic line of Moscow's foreign policy.

    "Russia should be consistent in this sphere or the foreign policy of our country can be called unpredictable. We have persuaded the whole world that our foreign policy has been consistent for several years," Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the Federation Council defense and security committee, told RIA Novosti.

    The senator fully agrees with Lavrov's words that Russia's position on the Tbilisi-Batumi conflict consists in the respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. Ozerov recalled that Russia has always adhered to the principles that Georgia is a sovereign state and Abkhazia and Adzharia are its inalienable parts.

    "Russia should not have double foreign policy standards or other states will view the Chechen conflict as international," he said.

    Ozerov welcomed Lavrov's statement on the leading role of the United Nations in settling the Iraq situation. "We firmly adhere to this principle - we should respect international law, which belongs to the United Nations and its Security Council, in any actions being taken," he stressed.

    Vadim Gustov, chairman of the Federation Council committee for the CIS affairs, told journalists that he fully supports Lavrov's today speech at a press conference in Moscow, particularly in what regards relations between Russia and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

    "One of the priority goals of the Foreign Ministry is promotion of integration processes. We think it especially important to develop the common economic space of the Commonwealth," Gustov said.

    As regards the Batumi-Tbilisi conflict, the senator said: "Georgia and Adzharia should themselves settle this situation, more so that local conditions are in place."

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