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    FOREIGN MINISTERS OF RUSSIA AND CHINA MEET IN BERLIN

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    MOSCOW, April 2, 2004 - RIA Novosti. Foreign ministers of Russia and China Sergei Lavrov and Li Zhaoxing, respectively, met the day before in Berlin, within the framework of the International Conference on Afghanistan held there, to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula, in Afghanistan and Iraq. This was reported on Friday by the information and press department of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    The sides also discussed the Russian-Chinese relations in the light of the forthcoming Moscow visit of Li Zhaoxing slated for this April.

    "The meeting proceeded in a traditional atmosphere of trust inherent in relations of strategic partnership between the two states," the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

    In Berlin Sergei Lavrov also held separate talks with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan," the spokesman said.

    The ministers pointed out that this conference is a highly important and timely event. It demonstrates the international community's adherence to the policy aimed at Afghanistan's revival under the UN auspices as a peaceful, independent and neutral state living in harmony with its neighbors and the rest of the world, as well as the international community's readiness to promote this process in every way.

    The ministers spoke in favor of furthering relations between the two states.

    (The International Conference on Afghanistan was held in the German capital on March 31-April 1. Out of $27.5 billion which Afghanistan's interim president Khamid Karzai asked for, the donor countries agreed to disburse to it $12billion for the next seven years for the restoration of Afghanistan's economy. A landmark event was the signing of a seven-party agreement on fighting illegal drug trafficking, with Afghanistan being the world "leader" in drug output and sales - the production and sales of opium make up almost half of Afghanistan's GDP, i.e. about $2.3 billion.

    The agreement was signed by Afghanistan and six adjacent countries: Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China and Pakistan.

    In Berlin Sergei Lavrov also met with Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia. In the focus of the meeting was the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in Iraq.

    The sides also discussed the Russian-Australian relations, mentioning a vast potential available for expanding mutually advantageous cooperation between the two states.

    The heads of the foreign policy departments of the two countries confirmed their interest in boosting partnership, strengthening international security and in combating terrorism.

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