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    FRANCE WISHES RUSSIA EVERY SUCCESS WITH REFORMS

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    PARIS, APRIL 2, 2004 (RIA NOVOSTI correspondent Andrei Nizamutdinov) - France wishes Russia every success with reforms, Catherine Colonna, official spokesperson for the Elysee Palace, said ahead of French President Jacques Chirac's routine visit to Russia, which is to start on Saturday.

    According to Ms. Colonna, the French head of state is coming to Moscow "to emphasize the importance he attaches to the development of robust and trustful relations between France and Russia." The President of the French Republic has "a strategic vision of the relationships with Russia and of that country's evolution," she said.

    According to Ms. Collonna, Russia has come a long way in the last decade: the nation has put the totalitarian past behind it and moved on toward democracy and the rule of law. Russia's efforts to modernize itself "deserve support" and are "in everybody's interest," the Elysee Palace spokesperson pointed out.

    France wishes Russia every success with further reform and restoration, said Ms. Colonna. She said that her country sought to promote stronger relations between Russia and Europe in keeping with decisions made at the EU-Russia summit in St. Petersburg last May.

    Speaking of the program of Chirac's trip, Ms. Colonna said that the French President will be the first Western leader to visit the spacecraft test & control center in Krasnoznamensk, outside Moscow. The French government appreciates "this gesture of trust vis-a-vis France," she said.

    The Elysee Palace spokesperson also confirmed the reports that Mr. Chirac was going to invite Mr. Putin to attend D-Day 60th anniversary celebrations this next June.

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