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Russia To Forgive $700 Million In Debt

Aleksei Kudrin (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) June 9, 2006 -- Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said today Russia plans to forgive about $700 million in debt this year owed by the poorest countries.

He was speaking shortly before a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialized countries in Saint Petersburg.

Russia has previously said it planned to write off debts owed by 16 African countries, and has offered to pay back $22 billion in Soviet-era debts to the Paris Club of creditor nations.

Also today, the global charity Oxfam called on G8 countries to expand debt cancellation to fight poverty. G8 members agreed last year on a $37 billion debt write off.

Oxfam says the deal is having a "positive impact" and that more should be done.

G8 leaders will meet for a summit in St. Petersburg on July 15-17.

(AP, AFP, Interfax)

MORE: To see RFE/RL's Russian Service coverage of the G8 finance ministers' meeting and what it means for Russia, click here.

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