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Latvian foreign minister wants president to visit Russia in 2009


RIGA, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins said on Monday he hoped that the country's President Valdis Zatlers will be able to visit Russia later in 2009.

Zalters was due to visit Russia in 2008 but canceled the trip following the Russia-Georgia conflict in South Ossetia, which the Baltic state condemned. His predecessor, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who was president for over eight years, never received an invitation.

"The Latvian president has never made an official visit to Russia, with the two heads of state only meeting during international events in third countries. We think this is not normal. I would like the Latvian president to visit Russia in 2009," Riekstins said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

The diplomat said Latvia was expecting to receive from Russia a proposal on possible dates and an agenda for the trip.

"We have drafted some agreements for signing, including one on tourism. And I think we could finally consider the issue of cooperation in emergency situations soon. I would also like issues related to our common and very difficult history to be raised during the visit," Riekstins said.

Russia deployed troops to South Ossetia, following Georgia's attack on its former republic in August 2008. Moscow recognized South Ossetia and another Georgian breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent two weeks after the attack.

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