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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chirac Wraps Up 3-Day Russia Visit

French President Jacques Chirac met with Russian lawmakers Saturday, ending a three-day visit to Moscow that took new steps toward developing trade between the two nations.

Underscoring the strengthening relations, Chirac used the trip as an opportunity to announce that France's nuclear missiles no longer target Russia.

Before leaving for several culture-oriented events in St. Petersburg en route back to Paris, Chirac held separate talks at his hotel with Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and Alexander Shokhin of the pro-government party Our Home Is Russia.

In tow with Chirac were about 30 French business leaders and three Cabinet ministers, who are trying to help the president reach his goal of doubling trade between the two countries.

France accounts for less than 3 percent of Russian trade and ranks eighth among its trade partners.

Russian media noted Saturday that France has become Moscow's intermediary to NATO, providing a buffer in the Kremlin's policy differences with the United States.

In St. Petersburg, Chirac toured the city, met with city Governor Vladimir Yakovlev and visited the University of St. Petersburg, where he spoke to students and teachers and was awarded an honorary medal.

He urged the students to travel more and make friends with their French peers, to believe in their country and people and protect democracy, the most fragile thing in Russia of today, Itar-Tass said.

Chirac returned to Paris on Sunday.