Russian foreign minister to meet today US State Secretary

During his visit to France, Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov will meet today with US State Secretary Colin Powell who is also in Paris now where he takes part in the session of a contact group for former Yugoslavia. RIA Novosti reports that Igor Ivanov said when he arrived in Paris that Colin Powell and he will discuss a lot of questions, including specific bilateral Russia-US issues. In addition, the sides will touch upon the issues pertaining to strategic stability and security, problems of START and ABM as well as most burning international problems -- the situation in the Balkans, Iraq, and the Middle East. It is possible that the situation in Afghanistan will also be discussed. This meeting, according to Ivanov, will be the beginning of "a dialogue on various issues with the new US administration." Igor Ivanov pointed out that this will be his second meeting with Colin Powell; the first one was to establish personal contacts, Ivanov said. Characterising the present state of Russian-US relations, Ivanov pointed out that on many questions the Russian and French positions coincide. He believes that relations between the two countries should be developed through the dialogue and taking into account the interests of all sides. Russian president Vladimir Putin who is of the same opinion expressed hope that the meeting between Ivanov and Powell will be "an important step in the development of relations with the US", that the results of the work between the two states over the latest period will be reviewed and "all positive things that have been achieved between Russia and the US over the past years will be preserved." And there are a lot of positive things, believes the head of the Russian state.

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