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    MOSCOW, April 7, 2004. Russia and Yemen state that only a real end of the occupation will make it possible to prevent the worst development of the situation in Iraq and in the region as a whole. This position was expressed at the meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with President Ali Abdallah Salih of Yemen, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.

    During their conversation, the two statesmen expressed a common opinion about the necessity of advancing the political process aimed at fully restoring Iraq's sovereignty, completing the constitutional development and establishing at last a new structure of the state governance with the active participation of the United Nation.

    The sides also focussed their attention on the urgent Middle East problems and revealed closeness or coincidence of their approaches to this matter.

    Sergei Lavrov confirmed the consistent policy of Russia in favour of the achievement of an all-embracing and just settlement in the Middle East on the basis of the Road Map which was worked out by the quartet of international mediators.

    In his turn, Ali Abdallah Salih pointed out that Russia should continue to be an active participant in the searches for ways of stopping the Palestinian-Israeli crisis.

    He also confirmed Yemen's support of the Russian initiative to expand cooperation with the Islamic Conference Organisation.

    "Both sides expressed satisfaction with the progressive development of Russian-Yemeni relations and came out for the necessity of supplementing the political dialogue, which is growing ever stronger, with more intensive contacts in the trade, economic and investment spheres," the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

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