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Francois Hollande to travel to Moscow Wed

February 27, 2013, 3:51 UTC+3

The forthcoming talks will deal with the most acute regional conflicts

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PARIS, February 27 (Itar-Tass) - French President Francois Hollande will travel to Moscow on Wednesday. His two-day trip will be his first visit to Russia since his advent to the Elysee Palace. Hollande already met with Vladimir Putin when the Russian President visited Paris in June last year. The French leader will arrive in the Russian capital late on Wednesday night. He will hold main meetings on Thursday.

Paris attaches special importance to the upcoming visit. Officials in the entourage of Francois Hollande point out, "The Moscow talks will provide an opportunity to discuss universal world problems with Russia which is a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council, the presiding country in the Group of Twenty, and which will assume presidency in the G-8 in 2014".

The forthcoming talks will deal with the most acute regional conflicts. French official told Itar-Tass that, specifically, Hollande would touch upon France's anti-terrorist operation in Mali. Paris is grateful to Moscow for the manifest "understanding of reasons for French intervention" in Mali's events.

"Russia did not deny us supporn and this is very important," a high-ranking French diplomat pointed out. Paris also expects that the situation in Syria and in the Middle East as a whole will be considered during the summit.

Over nine months that have passed since the election of the French leader, Moscow and Paris have succeded in both confirming the achieved level of bilateral relations and in laying the foundation for their further development. It is symbolic that a new position -- that of Foreign Ministry's special representative for the development of contacts with Russia -- has been instituted in the the French diplomacy structure of late.

Senator Jean-Pierre Chevenement, who filled the positions, is convinced that France is faced with the task of "catching up with Germany in developing business partnership with Russia". He recalled that the share of the FRG on the Russian market is almost 16 percent, whereas that of France is about five.

In the tour, Francois Hollande will be accompanied by key governmet ministers and chiefs of 15 leading French corporations. A Elysee Palace official said that even under the conditions of the world economic crisis French export to Russia grew several-fold in recent years to run at 9 billion euros. In its turn, France imported 12 billion euros worth of Russian commodities (mainly energy resources) last year.

Paris is prepared to offer technologies in many areas of cooperation such as urban living comfort, the development of the market of communications, and refinement of health care services. Business circles are of the opinion that the sides could also "combine their potentials in the field of innovations and jointly to enter the markets of Asia".

Military and technical military contacts are an inalienable component of the two countries' strategic partnership. Paris analysts consider it important that following the November changes in the Defence Ministry management, the Russian side reaffirmed its committment to bilateral plans in this respect. At the French shipyards at Saint Nazaire a ceremony was held on on February 1 to lay the bow section of the first helicopter carrier of Mistral class in the dry dock. The hcleicopter carriers are being built for Russia.

Documents concerning a further streamlining of visa procedures, mutual recognition of dipomas, and student exchanges in the light of the Russian comprehensive education project are expected to be signed in Moscow. "France would like to receive more Russian students," Paris officials say.

The two countries are brought together by the long-standing tradition of allied relations. December this year will see the 120th anniversary of the ratification of the treaty on Russo-French alliance. The soldiers of the Russian Expeditionary Corps paricipated in defending France in the First World War. The two countries are planning to hold memorial ceremonies to mark the centenary of the outbreak of WWI.

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