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    1ST RUSSIAN-AZERBAIJANI FORUM OPENS IN BAKU

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    BAKU, April 6, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The first Russian-Azerbaijani economic forum opened on Tuesday in Baku.

    "Recently, contracts between Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation have been efficient," Russian Minister of Industry and Energy Viktor Khristenko said at the opening of the forum.

    According to him, these contacts have manifested themselves in the cooperation between the countries on the Caspian Sea problems and in energy, transport and communications.

    Russia supports Azerbaijan's desire to take part in the North-South transport corridor, said Mr. Khristenko. He also promised that Russia would do everything possible to ensure uninterrupted energy deliveries to Azerbaijan.

    Addressing the forum session, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that relations with Russia are a priority for Azerbaijan and that the country intends to continue developing its relations with the Russian Federation in all directions.

    "The high level of political trust between our countries creates a favorable background for developing economic contacts," Mr. Aliyev said.

    He expressed confidence that the task of increasing trade between the two countries to $1 billion, set by the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, would be fulfilled.

    Over 300 representatives of governments, legislative bodies, and business of the two countries and the regional heads of Russia are attending the Russian-Azerbaijani economic forum.

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