Russia's President to hold talks with UN Secretary-General

On Monday president Vladimir Putin of Russia will hold talks with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who arrived in Moscow on an official visit on the day before.

As RIA Novosti was told in the Kremlin press service, "the forthcoming talks are expected to help further deepen the constructive cooperation between Russia and the UN in the interests of resolving the topical international problems facing the world community." Talks of the UN Secretary-General with Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, and speaker of the State Duma (parliament's lower house) Boris Gryzlov are also planned.

As spokesman for Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti, the questions of implementation of the Russian initiative to set up, under the UN aegis, a global system for countering the present-day challenges and threats will be discussed in the course of the meetings with the Russian leadership.

He noted that Russia backs the efforts the UN Secretary-General has been making in the Iraqi direction.

"The Organization becomes increasingly needed in Iraq. In Moscow they are confident that it has to play the central role in the post-conflict settlement, specifically in preparing and holding elections. The Russian side will confirm the need to continue the performance by the UN of its stabilizing role in the Middle East. It is necessary to work for the provisions of the 'Middle East' resolutions of the UN Security Council to be implemented in full and maximally help ensure favourable conditions for development of the peace process," Yakovenko said.

He stressed that Russia, like the UN Secretary-General, is gravely concerned over the dramatic deterioration of the situation in Kosovo. "This is why the fact that the extremists-provoked large-scale outbreak of violence in the province has shown that resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council is, as before, not being implemented in full will be emphasized at the talks with Kofi Annan. The attempts to connive at the extremists from-among the Kosovo Albanians failed and created serious risks of destabilization to the whole region," Yakovenko said.

The program of Annan's visit includes a ceremony of laying wreaths to the Unknown Soldier's Tomb and a visit to the Moscow International Model of the UN - a student game imitating this international organization's activity.

Annan's visit to Russia will last till April 6, 2004.

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