Russian Premier in France for Talks on Trade, Economy
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and French counterpart Lionel Jospin were to hold talks in Paris Monday aimed at boosting trade and economic ties.
On the agenda for the meeting, held within the framework of a permanent inter-governmental working group, which continues through Tuesday, were the aerospace industry, investment, trade and technology, officials said.
Several agreements were expected to be signed.
France is Russia's eighth largest trading partner. Trade between the two countries stood at 2.2 billion dollars during the first nine months of this year compared to 2.4 billion dollars in 1999, according to Russian officials.
Earlier this month Rrussian officials said Moscow's external debt to the Paris Club of creditor nations could also come up for discussion during Kasyanov's visit.
Kasyanov has already spoken out in favor of part of the Russian external debt being converted into foreign investment in Russian industry.
Russia owes 48 billion dollars (54 billion euros) to the Paris Club nations, 40 percent of it to Germany. It is scheduled to repay 3.3 billion dollars next year.
Russia and the Paris Club held talks in early November to reschedule billions of dollars of foreign debt.
But Russian deputy finance minister Sergei Kolotukhin said then that official negotiations were out of the question until the International Monetary Fund had examined and approved a cooperation program with Russia.
Kasyanov's trip to France follows a similar one in October by President Vladimir Putin aimed at patching up bilateral ties soured by Russia's military offensive in Chechnya -- PARIS (AFP)
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