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Russia gains full place at G-8 table

The leaders of the G-7 countries and Russia meeting in Kananaskis, Canada, decided to upgrade Russia's status to full membership in the group by 2006, Russian and Western news agencies reported. In addition, it was decided that the 2006 G-8 summit will be held in St. Petersburg. Russia will also host a special meeting of G-8 members in 2004. ITAR-TASS quoted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as saying that the decision to include Russia among the world's leading powers shows that Russia, under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, is able to play a full role in resolving global problems.

...and $20 billion allocated for strategic disarmament.

Summit participants also decided to allocate $20 billion over the next decade for the destruction of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons from the strategic arsenal of the former Soviet Union, RIA-Novosti reported on 27 June. The United States will provide half this sum, with the European Union, Canada, and Japan providing the rest. The decision was made not only to speed up the process of dismantling Soviet arsenals, but also to prevent dangerous substances from falling into the hands of terrorists, Reuters reported. Western military experts have long expressed serious concern about the lack of security around storage facilities for weapons of mass destruction in Russia and other former Soviet republics.

(RFE/RL 27.vi.02)

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