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    PUTIN, CHIRAC TO NEGOTIATE FOR 11TH TIME

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    MOSCOW, APRIL 3, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is to negotiate with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac here today. This will be their eleventh meeting.

    Vladimir Putin paid his first-ever official visit to France in October-November 2000. At that time, both sides once again voiced their coinciding positions on some key international security issues, including the Middle East and the Balkans.

    In July 2001 Jacques Chirac returned the visit, staying in St. Petersburg and Moscow back then. A joint strategic stability statement was issued, after Russian-French talks wound up. Moreover, both sides signed a new air traffic agreement and an additional cooperation agreement in the field of business support.

    In January 2002 Vladimir Putin paid a brief working visit to France, what with both leaders discussing issues of Russia-EU and Russia-NATO partnership, as well as prospects for French-Russian cooperation and other issues. Putin and Chirac agreed to establish a bilateral defense and security council, also advocating new strategic stability boundaries that would hinge on legally binding accords and reliable mechanisms for verifying their implementation.

    In July 2002 Jacques Chirac visited Russia. It should be noted here that this became his first foreign visit upon reelection as president of France. Top-level Russian-French talks lasted for two consecutive days at Vladimir Putin's Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi. Both leaders discussed long-term bilateral cooperation principles, issues of Russian-French economic cooperation, including aerospace cooperation. They focused on the struggle against terrorism and the settlement of regional conflicts, i.e. the Mideastern conflict, the Indian-Pakistani conflict, the Balkan situation, as well as the situation around Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In February 2003 Vladimir Putin paid a state visit to France. At that time, both leaders noted coinciding Russian and French positions as regards the solution of the Iraqi problem by political-diplomatic methods, also advocating subsequent close-knit interaction for these purposes. Bilateral talks attached priority to the Iraqi situation. Moreover, the sides discussed Russia-EU relations, anti-terrorist operations, the situation on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the Mideastern situation.

    On April 11, 2003 St. Petersburg hosted a trilateral summit involving Russian and French Presidents Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The three men mostly discussed the post-crisis Iraqi settlement and its economic rehabilitation. Moreover, they examined UN-related issues, Russia-EU cooperation, the Mideastern situation, as well as that on the Korean Peninsula.

    Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac talked to each other briefly, discussing various aspects of Russian-French cooperation, trade-and-economic cooperation, in the first place. They devoted considerable attention to aerospace cooperation, culture cooperation prospects, as well as Russian-language and French-language studies in our two countries.

    Jacques Chirac came to Russia once again May 30, attending festivities in connection with St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary.

    Jacques Chirac hosted yet another G8 summit in Evian, France already two days later. Both Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin met each other again during the summit, mostly discussing the Iraqi situation and that in the Middle East. Both leaders examined the North Korean problem, as well as subsequent options for expanding Russia-EU cooperation. Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac also talked about some aspects of bilateral relations, such as aerospace cooperation, the participation of French companies in major fuel and energy projects on Russian territory, as well as cooperation in the education field.

    Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac subsequently met in New York on September 24, 2003, discussing bilateral Russian-French relations, as well as the situation around Iraq.

    Their tenth summit took place in Paris on November 7, 2003. The leaders discussed bilateral relations and international issues, such as Russia-EU relations, as well as the situation in Iraq and Iran. A cooperation agreement in the field of space exploration was signed back then.

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