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    Russia's FM Lavrov to start Brazil visit

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    Russia's foreign minister is embarking on a visit to Brazil, South America's largest and most influential nation, Thursday in a bid to boost bilateral ties, the Foreign Ministry said.

    BRASILIA, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister is embarking on a visit to Brazil, South America's largest and most influential nation, Thursday in a bid to boost bilateral ties, the Foreign Ministry said.

    Russia expects that Sergei Lavrov's visit, which follows his meetings in Argentina, will ensure the sustainable development of economic cooperation with the giant Latin American economy, help bring mutual trade to $10 billion by 2010, and will give a boost to joint science and technology projects.

    Space exploration is a key area of cooperation between the two countries in the technology sector. Russia took Brazil's first astronaut to the International Space Station on board its Soyuz spacecraft in April. Marcos Pontes returned to Earth with the outgoing crew after a short stay.

    Lavrov will meet with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim Thursday and with the foreign ministers of Mercosur, the Latin American free trade group, comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Paraguay.

    "Intensifying the two countries' efforts to join political and economic integration processes, and their bilateral contacts within [international] alliances are important aspects of Russian-Brazilian cooperation," official Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.

    The ministry said the foreign ministers were expected to sign a document establishing a framework for political dialogue between Russia and the Latin American nations.

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