President Putin's European tour: after Rome, Paris

Today, Russia's President Vladimir Putin will discuss Russo-French relations, the situation in Iraq and the course of the Mideast settlement with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac. A statement to this effect was made by Sergei Prikhodko, deputy head of the Kremlin administration.

He said Putin's forthcoming short working visit to Paris to be made on November 7 on the Russian side's initiative would be the third bilateral meeting between Putin and Chirac in 2003.

Sergei Prikhodko also said that during the forthcoming negotiations the sides would "exchange their opinions on such a topical issue as boosting bilateral relations, primarily in the trade and economic sphere." In particular, they will discuss the results of the ninth session of the Russo-French commission for bilateral cooperation held on October 6, 2003 in Moscow at the level of prime ministers.

Considerable attention at the talks will be paid to studying the prospects of cooperation in the aircraft and space industry, to such issues as the launching of Russian carrier rockets from the Kourou launch pad in the French Guiana, joint efforts to create an engine for the future regional plane, and Russian aircraft building enterprises' participation in industrial cooperation to manufacture airbuses.

Prikhodko also said energy cooperation was important in Russo-French trade and economic relations.

"Issues of Russia and the EU's rapprochement are becoming a priority now in the Russo-French political dialog," said Prikhodko. He didn't rule out that Russia-NATO collaboration would also be touched upon in the course of the conversation.

"Russia's rapprochement with the EU and NATO is regarded in a wider context of full-scale integration of Russia in the international political and economic community," the Kremlin representative said.

The negotiations on the international problems will focus on the settlement of the most urgent conflict situations in the world, the deputy head of the Kremlin administration said. In his words, prime heed will be paid to Iraq's postwar rehabilitation and the Palestino-Israeli situation. The agenda also includes discussions of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in relation to Iran and North Korea as well, and other issues, Prikhodko said in conclusion.

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