The 8th meeting of the Russian-Vietnamese Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation will be held in Hanoi on January 18-20. On behalf of the Russian party the commission is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko. A representative of the deputy prime minister's staff said that the main theme to be discussed is the cooperation between Russia and Vietnam in the fuel and energy industry, where Russian companies Zarubezhneft, Gazprom and Technopromexport have an obvious advantage. Representatives of the Russian delegation reported that the talks on these issues would be detailed and specific. Special attention will be paid to questions of increasing the volume of trade between the two countries. According to preliminary estimates, the official volume of trade will exceed $500 million in 2001. This figure does not include the volume of 'shuttle vending,' which is not fully registered by the customs statistics. The work on developing direct correspondent relations between Russian and Vietnamese commercial banks will be continued to reduce the amount of transactions going via banks in third countries. As for the scientific and technological cooperation, over 30 contracts dealing with biological technologies, production and use of modern laser medical equipment, etc. are being considered.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the termination of diplomatic relations with NATO at a time when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ended a meeting in Georgia with his counterpart