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    FOREIGN MINISTRY SEES "SUBSTANTIAL POTENTIAL" FOR COOPERATION WITH EU

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    MOSCOW, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - In order to improve relations between Russia and the European Union an equal and open dialogue needs to be conducted and the mechanism of cooperation needs to be renewed in accordance with the decisions of the St. Petersburg summit. (Last May, the heads of state of the world's leading countries met in St. Petersburg during its 300th anniversary.)

    An official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Yakovenko spoke about these issues on Tuesday in connection with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's upcoming meeting with the EU Troika in Dublin, Ireland.

    "The first steps have already been taken-the foreign ministers, the transportation ministers, the interior ministers, the justice ministers and the heads of veterinary services have met in the 1+25 format," Mr. Yakovenko said.

    According to him, a substantial potential exists in relations between Russia and the EU for cooperating in the context of the European policy in the sphere of security and defense, including crisis reaction, civil defense and response to disasters.

    "We are ready to form a normative basis for cooperation with the EU in this sphere," Mr. Yakovenko said.

    Speaking about the relations between Russia and Ireland, he said that they are stable.

    Russia and Ireland are traditional partners in European and international affairs. Their relations are distinguished by a mutual trust, he said.

    "Our countries conduct a stable political dialogue," Mr. Yakovenko said.

    He noted that the approaches of Russia and Ireland to ensuring European security and other key international problems "are close or coincide."

    "First of all this concerns the understanding of the necessity of solving international conflicts by political methods with unconditional respect for international law and the priority of using the UN's potential," he underscored.

    Mr. Yakovenko spoke of the fight against international terrorism, organized crime and drugs as important spheres of cooperation between Russia and Ireland.

    "We proceed from the fact that Russian-Irish cooperation in these spheres, including practical implementation, will grow stronger," he noted.

    Mr. Yakovenko said that trade between the two countries in 2003 amounted to 300 million euros and that Irish investments in Russia were approximately 200 million euros. At the same time, he pointed out that the potential of economic cooperation had not been fully realized.

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