Source Pravda.Ru

Russian Foreign Minister off to Norway

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in the course of an official visit to Norway beginning today, will hold talks with Norway's Foreign Minister Jan Peterson, and be also received by Prime Minister Kjelle Magne Bondevik.

Alexander Yakovenko, an official Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in an interview that during the visit special attention would be paid to Russian-Norwegian trade, economic and investment cooperation.

The Russian minister will visit major Norwegian concerns Hydro (oil production) and Telenor (telecommunications).

Ahead of the Russian minister's visit, Norwegian ambassador Oyvind Nordsletten told RIA Novosti that Norway had things to offer to Russia in offshore oil production. He said his country had extensive experience and offshore drilling techniques to be shared.

Besides, the two sides had good cooperation prospects in telecommunications, the ambassador added.

Moscow plans to discuss a possible further increase in trade turnover between the two countries, which in 2003 reached a record $1.2 billion.

The meetings in Oslo will also deal with boosting Norwegian investments in the Russian economy.

Yakovenko said that the upcoming negotiations would examine a number of current aspects of bilateral relations, in particular delimitation of sea expanses in the Barents Sea.

The sides will also consider bilateral cooperation in nature protection. Here, Moscow and Oslo have a common interest in ensuring nuclear and radiation safety in the North, and implementation of the agreement on the MNEPR (Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation).

Norway has allocated 10 million euros for recycling two decommissioned nuclear submarines from Russia's Northern Fleet. At the moment the Norwegian side is considering issuing additional sums for this project.

Nor will the sides neglect the international situation. Moscow believes that Norway's current rotating presidency of the Council of Europe and of the Barents/Euro-Arctic Council opens up big opportunities for coordination of the two countries' efforts.

At Oslo talks the sides will also discuss such topics as the fight against international terrorism, the situations in Iraq and in Afghanistan, Middle East settlement, and evolution of the European security system.

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