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Russia: French Prime Minister Calls For Closer Ties

Moscow, 31 October 1997 (RFE/RL) -- French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said today he shares Moscow's vision of a multi-polar world and promised to help Russia forge closer relations with the European Union (EU).

In a speech at Moscow State University, Jospin said France and the EU are ready to help Russia by establishing what he called a "real partnership." Jospin said Russia will be one of the leaders in a new international order.

Jospin -- who is on the second day of an official three-day visit -- said Moscow and Paris share "surprisingly similar" goals on international issues and should strive to work together.

He also sought to ease Russian concerns over NATO expansion. He called for a gradual change in the character of relations between NATO and Russia. He said he believes the new NATO-Russia Council will make dialogue on European security issues "fully natural."

Jospin met yesterday with President Boris Yeltsin. They agreed to push ahead with plans to develop an Iranian natural gas field, despite opposition by the U.S.