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Latvian govt. given mandate to sign border treaty with Russia

RIGA, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - Latvia's parliament on Thursday voted to give the Baltic nation's Cabinet a mandate to sign a border treaty with Russia, with 69 lawmakers backing the move, and 26 voting against.

A Latvian-Russian border treaty dating back to 1997 remains unsigned and unratified, as Latvian politicians have sought to link the border settlement to forcing Russia to sign a declaration admitting to Soviet aggression during World War II, and to make concessions on other issues.

Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis said he believes the signing of the border treaty is a priority for the new government, and that the document will be signed in spring or summer 2007.

EU member Latvia included a unilateral declaration in the draft border treaty, allowing it to claim Russian territory - the Pytalovo District in the Pskov Region - which was part of Latvia before World War II and annexed by Russia in 1944.

In January, Kalvitis said his country would not add any extra declarations to the treaty.

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