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Japan’s cooperation in helping Russia nurture its small and midsize businesses is important to improving overall relations between the two countries, said Irina Hakamada, chairwoman of the Russian State Committee for Support of Small Business, on Tuesday.In a meeting with Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi, Hakamada expressed appreciation for Japan’s cooperation in the field and said that Russia places importance on strengthening economic relations with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, especially Japan, according to ministry officials.Hakamada reportedly said that small and medium-size enterprises in Russia do not always take priority in Russia’s economic revitalization policies. Obuchi responded by saying the Japanese government will continue to promote cooperation, emphasizing its importance to Russia’s efforts to bring about a market-oriented economy, they said.Cooperation on helping such businesses was agreed upon by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and President Boris Yeltsin at their informal meeting last November in Krasnoyarsk, eastern Siberia.

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