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    KOSOVO, IRAQ AND MIDDLE EAST TO BE CENTRAL THEMES OF ANNAN'S TALKS IN MOSCOW

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    MOSCOW, April 1, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Alexander Yakovenko, the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told RIA Novosti that the situation in Kosovo, Iraq and the Middle East would be the central themes of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's talks in Moscow on April 4-6.

    According to him, Russia is gravely concerned with the dramatic deterioration of the situation in Kosovo. The recent outbreak of violence in the area demonstrated that the UN Security Council resolution 1244 is not being fully implemented, and this will be noted at the talks. "Attempts to indulge Kosovo Albanian extremists have failed and created the serious risk of destabilizing the whole region," Mr. Yakovenko said. According to him, Moscow is prepared for active interaction with every structure involved in the Kosovo settlement, including Kofi Annan and his special representative, Harri Holkeri.

    Russia backs the efforts the UN Secretary General has been making in the situation in Iraq, the spokesman said. In Moscow's opinion, the UN is increasingly needed in Iraq.

    Russia intends to pay attention to the necessity of the UN playing a stabilizing role in the Middle East. Moscow also intends to discuss the prospects of implementing the road map peace plan and the possibility of international monitoring, Mr. Yakovenko said.

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