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|Thursday, April 19, 2001, updated at 08:31(GMT+8)|
Russia, Yugoslavia to Expand Cooperation in Economy, BalkansRussian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and his Yugoslav counterpart Zoran Zizic pledged here Wednesday to expand bilateral economic cooperation and to make joint efforts to preserve the stability in the Balkans.
Russia regards Yugoslavia as "a key partner in the Balkans and Central Europe as a whole, and is ready to bend every effort to expand cooperation with that country in all spheres: political, economic and social," Kasyanov told reporters after a meeting with Zizic in the White House here.
Kasyanov said that during the talks, he confirmed Russia's firm stance on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yugoslavia. "We support the democratic processes taking place in Yugoslavia and the stabilization of its law and justice, which is a good foundation for our economic cooperation," he said.
In his turn, Zizic said that he briefed Kasyanov on the situation in Kosovo and expressed condolences over the recent death of a Russian peacekeeper in Kosovo. He also informed Kasyanov of the situation in light of the April 22 elections in Montenegro, stressing their importance for stabilizing the situation in Yugoslavia and the Balkans as a whole.
The two premiers discussed the possibility of deepening the economic cooperation after Moscow allocated 150 million U.S. dollars to Belgrade in preferential loans recently. Kasyanov expressed the hope that Russia can take part in the reconstruction of the Yugoslav installations ruined by NATO bombings in 1999.
Zizic, who arrived here Tuesday for a working visit, said Yugoslavia will decide the fate of former president Slobodan Milosevic by itself.
He invited Kasyanov to visit Yugoslavia and said Belgrade is also expecting President Vladimir Putin's visit as a reply to the Yugoslav president's Moscow trip earlier this year.
On the same day, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov also met Zizic and told him that Moscow welcomes the steps that Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica is taking toward resolving the problems facing the country.
On the April 22 elections in Montenegro, he said that Russia is firmly standing by its position that Montenegro should stay within a united Yugoslavia.
"I reaffirm that Russia is firmly standing by its position that Yugoslavia's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected and maintained," he stressed.
Moscow is "satisfied with the development of the Russian- Yugoslav dialogue," he added.
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