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Russia Joins Africa Development Initiative --> Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) June 10, 2006 -- Russia is joining the World Bank in channeling $250 million to sub-Saharan states to help fight diseases such as malaria and to improve infrastructure.

Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin announced the plan after a meeting with World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz in St. Petersburg, where finance ministers of the Group of Eight leading industrialized countries are meeting.

The $250 million is being made available under a plan by Russia to cancel nearly $700 million in debt owed by poor countries to the former Soviet Union.

The Russians' support for the development of infrastructure will be focused on the energy sector.

The G8 finance ministers are expected to conclude their St. Petersburg meeting on June 10 by issuing a statement on debt relief and development in poor countries, and a communique on the current state of the world economy.

(compiled from agency reports)

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