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Russia Does Not Have Any Imperial Ambitions - Lavrov

MOSCOW. April 10 (Interfax) - Russia does not have any imperial ambitions and views its ability to pursue an independent foreign policy among its achievements, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"Russia favors a unifying policy and the strengthening of collective efforts in international affairs. One of our main achievements is the independence of our foreign policy.

We have neither imperial ambitions nor an inferiority complex," Lavrov said at an Easter reception for the diplomatic corps also attended by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia on Tuesday.

"We defend our national interests and employ our advantages. We are confident that there is no alternative to the rule of law as opposed to the use of force in international affairs," Lavrov said.

He criticized "dividing and ideologized approaches" in foreign policy.

Lavrov stressed the Orthodox Church's role in this area and pointed to the significance of the signing of a canonical communion act between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia planned for May 17.

Alexy II said, "On these holy days, Easter greetings are heard on all continents in all countries."

The Russian Orthodox Church is trying not to forget about its parishes in countries outside the CIS where there are no Orthodox priests and sends members of the clergy there to conduct Easter religious services, he said.

"This is done not without the direct support of the Russian diplomatic service, for which I would like to thank the Foreign Ministry," he said.

"I mean above all the People's Republic of China. This year will see 50 years since the Moscow Patriarchate granted autonomy to the Chinese Orthodox Church. It marks its jubilee without a single priest or bishop but with thousands of parishioners," he said.

Alexy II also mentioned the upcoming reunification of two parts of the Russian Church, saying that "we will feel joy because of the Russian Orthodox Church's unity with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which will extend the Easter ceremonies.