Following talks with French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine in Moscow yesterday, Russian officials painted bilateral relations between the two countries in rosy colors. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that there are no problems in Russian-French relations and that yesterday’s talks were therefore devoted to further deepening bilateral ties. Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who also met with Vedrine yesterday, spoke in similar terms. Primakov’s press secretary said that the two men had confirmed “the privileged nature” of French-Russian relations and expressed their readiness to boost trade and economic partnership. Primakov was also quoted as saying that the two countries “have very close positions on international affairs.”
Russian officials said that top priority in yesterday’s talks was given to preparations for Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s upcoming visit to France, scheduled for January 28-29. According to Ivanov, that this will be Yeltsin’s first venture abroad in the new year only confirms how important Moscow and Paris attach to their mutual relations. The two sides yesterday reportedly also discussed both European security and the crises in Iraq and Yugoslavia. Russia and France have worked in tandem to ease UN sanctions against Iraq and to oppose U.S.-British strikes on Baghdad. The discussions yesterday were said to have dealt as well with Russia’s economic crisis and Moscow’s hope for French help in procuring international financial assistance. Vedrine also met yesterday with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov and with Duma speaker Gennady Seleznev (Russian agencies, January 12).
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