Development of political cooperation between Russia, Portugal complies with interests of both countries

Closer political relations between Russia and Portugal meet the interests of both countries, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, told RIA Novosti after a meeting with Antonio Martins da Cruz, Foreign Minister of Portugal.

The high-ranking Russian diplomat arrived in Lisbon within the framework of preparations for a working visit to Moscow by the head of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry, due to begin on June 28.

Trubnikov named among the subjects that Igor Ivanov and Antonio Martins da Cruz might discuss in Moscow cooperation of Russia and Portugal with Angola on the restoration of that African country's economy ravaged by the many-year-long destructive civil war. "Our countries have much in common in their approaches to that problem, and it is very likely that they will discuss it," he said.

The two ministers are expected to discuss a wide range of problems in the light of Portugal's presidency in the OSCE in the current year, and, in particular, the situation in the Transdniestrian region, the work of OSCE representatives in Belarus and Russia and, in particular, in Chechnya, said Trubnikov.

Commenting on the results of the working meeting between the co-chairmen of the Minsk group for settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which includes representatives of Russia, the USA and France and which ended on the previous day in Lisbon, Trubnikov noted that it is necessary to prevent a situation when Azerbaijan and Armenia would "take some steps to exploit the election situation to promote their own ends exclusively." Presidential elections in these countries have been scheduled for next autumn and the spring of 2003, respectively.

Vyacheslav Trubnikov said that meetings between the co-chairmen of the Minsk group with President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan in Tallinn and separately with President of Azerbaijan Geidar Aliyev in Istanbul would be held shortly. "We believe that this format will lead to a regular meeting of the presidents that might be held even before the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States convenes early this next October," noted Trubnikov.

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