Russia, France to step up bilateral cooperation

Foreign Ministers Igor Ivanov of Russia and Dominique de Villepin of France held negotiations in Moscow on Monday. The two governments, willing to give a new impetus to their bilateral relations, are stepping up political dialogue, Messrs. Ivanov and de Villepin pointed out.

The Russo-French foreign ministerial negotiations focused on the July 19-20 summit between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac, Mr. Ivanov said.

Mr. de Villepin said he expected further improvement of the relations between his country and Russia. He hopes that the forthcoming presidential summit will make an appreciable contribution to this process. According to the French Foreign Minister, the two sides have repeatedly demonstrated their eagerness to cooperate. Mr. de Villepin also said he was impressed by the scale of the reforms being effected under President Putin.

Ivanov commented on the joint communique signed by him and his French counterpart on the creation of a Russo-French security cooperation council, noting that it was the presidents of Russia and France who had made the decision.

This will be the first such council in the history of Russo-French relations, and the fact that it is being created indicates that the relationship between Russia and France is a special one, Mr. Ivanov pointed out.

The latest developments in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan were high on the agenda, as was the potential threat of nuclear, biological and chemical proliferation. The sides exchanged views on the whole gamut of bilateral relations and on some of the most pressing international issues.

In conclusion, Mr. de Villepin thanked his Russian counterpart for having given him such a warm reception.

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