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    Russian acting FM to visit Paraguay

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    Russia's acting foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, will arrive in Paraguay Thursday for the first-ever high-level Russian visit to the country, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

    ASUNCION, September 13 (RIA Novosti) -Russia's acting foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, will arrive in Paraguay Thursday for the first-ever high-level Russian visit to the country, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

    During his one-day trip, Lavrov will meet with Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos, Foreign Minister Ruben Ramirez Lezcano and other senior officials.

    The sides will discuss bilateral relations, including the opening of a Russian Embassy in Paraguay's capital, Asuncion.

    "The visit to Paraguay is expected to set up a new era in cooperation between our countries and to help define prospects for its development in the near future," the ministry said.

    Since 2003, trade between Russia and Paraguay increased 100-fold, reaching $200 million in 2006 thanks to exports of Paraguayan beef, the Russian Ambassador to Argentina and Paraguay, Yuri Korchagin, said.

    The talks will also focus on the issues of strengthening dialogue in a multilateral framework, including the participation of Russia at the summit of the South American common market, MERCOSUR, in December following an invitation from Uruguay Wednesday.

    MERCOSUR was established in 1994, and its full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela are its associated members.

    On September 14, Lavrov will arrive in Senegal, West Africa, the final country on his 10-day tour agenda, which included Australia, Peru and Uruguay.

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