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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

French Agree to Military Project

APIvanov meeting with France's Michele Alliot-Marie in St. Petersburg late Wednesday.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said he and his French colleague Michele Alliot-Marie had agreed Thursday to study the feasibility of jointly developing an unmanned combat aircraft.

Meeting in the northern city of St. Petersburg, the two ministers also discussed cooperation in the development of munitions and heavy helicopters, as well as in space, Interfax reported.

"The joint design of military hardware will make our compatibility better," Interfax quoted Alliot-Marie as saying.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier was due to arrive in Moscow later Thursday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. All four ministers were due to take part in a session of the Russian-French Security Cooperation Council.

Ivanov reiterated Russia's position that it has the right to make preventive, non-nuclear strikes on alleged international terrorists, whom Moscow says have declared war on Russia. "In this situation, it would be naive and negligent not to think about how to prevent a terrorist threat in case it is aimed against Russia from the outside," Interfax quoted him as saying.

Friday's session of the security cooperation council, which was formed in 2002 and has met three times, will include discussions of cooperation on international and European issues including reform of the United Nations and the creation of a new "European security architecture" in the wake of the European Union's eastward expansion, as well as international terrorism and regional crises, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.

A joint expert group on nonproliferation that is part of the council was to meet Thursday, he said.

Barnier could not say whether or not Chechen emissary Akhmed Zakayev would be able to visit France, Interfax reported.

The question was asked at a Thursday meeting between Barnier and Moscow postgraduate students who are studying French.

President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac on Wednesday, the Kremlin said.

Putin and Chirac discussed international affairs, aid to victims of the Asia tsunami and plans for high-level meetings, Putin's press service said.