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     Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov Converses with Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Habib Ben Yahia

     May 28, 2001

     On May 26, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Igor Ivanov had a conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tunisia, Habib Ben Yahia, who had come to Moscow for a working visit.

     During a circumstantial exchange of views on topical international and regional issues, an identity or similarity of the stands of the two countries became apparent.

     The sides underlined their readiness for joint action in the shaping of a multipolar world pattern, and pointed to the importance of enhancing the United Nations role in this process and to the necessity of searching for answers to the threats with which the international community is faced today, including terrorism, regional conflicts and others. Igor Ivanov pointed out the importance of the cooperation in these questions between Russia and Tunisia, which is a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council.

     The Ministers expressed their deep concern over the dangerous developments in the Middle East. They laid emphasis on the need to unblock the crisis around the Palestinian territories, to prevent an escalation in the Lebanese-Israeli border zone, and to restore the peace process. In this context Igor Ivanov spoke up for the adoption by the Palestinians and the Israelis of reciprocal measures to end the violence and work out a mutually acceptable platform for the resumption of political dialogue.

     When discussing the situation around Iraq the Russian Minister emphasized the need for a genuine settlement of the Iraqi problem on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Such a solution must provide for the restoration in Iraq of a system of international disarmament monitoring closely tied to a suspension, and then also the lifting of sanctions, and so the real cessation of the sufferings of the Iraqi people. The progress in the consultations on the Iraqi questions now being conducted in the UN Security Council was considered from this vantage point. The Ministers pointed out that it was important for the Security Council to adopt a decision which would not lead to a worsening of the position of the population of Iraq, to an aggravation of the situation in the Persian Gulf zone and to a crisis in the Middle East as a whole.

     Mutual interest was expressed in improving the situation in the Mediterranean, on the African continent and, more specifically, in the North Africa area.

     During the talks, the sides reconfirmed their striving for the further development of the traditional friendly Russian-Tunisian relations. The Ministers agreed to expand the range of bilateral political dialogue and collaboration. Specific ways to deepen cooperation in the trade-and-economic and other fields of mutual interest were discussed. In development of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Tunisia on Cultural and Scientific Cooperation, concluded in 1999, Igor Ivanov and Habib Ben Yahia signed a Cultural Cooperation Program between Russia and Tunisia for 2001-03.

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