Excerpts from the Transcript of the Meeting with Cabinet Members 2006-01-10 19:10:50 The Kremlin, Moscow ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF THE SPREAD OF AVIAN FLU President Vladimir Putin: I asked the head of the Federal Service on Supervision in the Sphere of Protecting Consumer Rights and Human Prosperity, Gennadii Grigorevich Onishchenko, to come to the meeting today. Please tell us about the situation in Russia concerning the problem of the spread of avian flu, a problem that faces a great many countries. Gennadii Onishchenko: In the first ten days of 2006 the situation was normal and there was no increase in the number of cases of normal flu. The present situation is connected with the fact people in the Turkish Republic have been infected with the new H5N1 strain of avian flu. According to the World Health Organization and the Turkish Health Ministry, fourteen cases have been recorded and three of them proved fatal. We have strengthened surveillance at the borders, first and foremost at the air border. All aircraft arriving from the Turkish Republic are examined by medical and sanitary inspection services at the airports. The land border represents a special concern for us, and in the territory of the Republic of North Ossetia at two border posts—Lars and Nizhnii Zaramak—people are being examined in an increasingly stringent way. In the direction of Dagestan we are concerned about places such as Iarak, Kazmaliar and Tagirkent. Here measures are being taken to detect infected people. In connection with this, pilgrims who will start to return from holy places on January 19 represent a special group at risk. This group is composed of 4400 people who travelled by car through Iran, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. This is a high-risk group since their route runs through Turkey's affected regions. We are now conducting negotiations with the Hadj Committee in Saudi Arabia. All organized groups of pilgrims have medical support. They have doctors and intermediate-level medical workers. And probably through diplomatic channels and through the Foreign Ministry we will raise the issue of modifying the route these groups shall take. This is important seeing as, according to our data, Jordan has closed its border with Turkey and the pilgrims are therefore faced with an insurmountable obstacle. We are making active efforts on this issue right now. In addition, we have offered Turkey our help. We offered epidemiologists, doctors and specialists who have experience in situations like the one in Russia faced in August and September of last year. We are ready to offer diagnostic equipment to the Turkish Republic and to help their specialists learn to use it so that they can do their work in a more qualified way. We are very worried about the expected increase of normal flu which we predict will take place at the end of January. Instructions have been given to the country's medical services to once again take all necessary measures, and first and foremost to enhance laboratory diagnostic equipment so as to not miss avian flu that could have entered our country. We are also worried about spring, when birds that are now nesting in the territory of the Turkish Republic, other southern countries and in Crimea will come back to Russia. Together with the Ministry of Agriculture we have developed additional measures. Your decision to allocate the cost of vaccinating the population against the flu from the federal budget as part of a national project was very felicitous. It will enable us to be more prepared for possible complications, should they arise. Today the situation is under control. Vladimir Putin: Do we have any centres of avian flu in the Russian Federation? Gennadii Onishchenko: Today there are no centres of avian flu among birds. We are absolutely sure of this. And naturally, no people have been infected. Vladimir Putin: I consider that we must already start thinking about what is in store for us in the spring regarding bird migration. Pay attention: states which have faced this problem are on all sides of our borders. States such as the People's Republic of China, Turkey, Ukraine and Romania. And of course we should already think about doing all we can to prevent this problem from surfacing in our country. First and foremost, there are food markets. The highest degree of sanitary measures must be taken, but they must be taken in the most careful way, so as not to harm the consumer market. There is also the question of transportation by railway, air and car. The border in the very widest sense of this word. And finally, there are preventative measures. We must provide the people who work in the field all necessary numbers of reagents, means of defence and preventative measures in advance. We must accomplish all organizational measures right now. If additional financial resources are needed, then the Government must quickly allocate these resources. And I ask the Prime Minister to pay very close attention to this and to report to me on the plan for measures to be taken in this area. Mikhail Fradkov: We shall prepare the plan, Vladimir Vladimirovich, and we shall present it to you. ON THE RESULTS OF THE FOREIGN MINISTRY DELEGATION'S TRIP TO IRAN Vladimir Putin: Our delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in Iran. What were the results of the trip? Sergei Lavrov: According to your order on the necessity of helping resolve the Iranian nuclear problem by using political and diplomatic methods, simultaneously respecting the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and taking into account Russia's trade and economic interests, the next series of consultations between deputy foreign ministers and deputy security council secretaries took place in Tehran. They discussed the practical aspects of the Russian offer to enrich uranium for Iran's nuclear power requirements on Russian territory, that is proceeding under scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This offer is supported by all interested parties including European states, the United States, China and other states. And the result of our consultations was that the Iranian party agreed to continue talks on this theme. There is an agreement whereby a delegation of Iranian experts will come to Moscow in February to continue this discussion. At the same time we are concerned by the latest information that Iran declared its intention to resume a number of projects connected with enriching uranium contrary to the moratorium that Iran and European countries agreed to, a moratorium that was taken into account in the decisions by the IAEA. We are making active efforts in our relations with Iran so that the moratorium is observed during the period of talks and we are coordinating our actions with our European partners – with Germany, Great Britain and France.