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World: Denver's Summit Of The Eight Reflects Russia's New Stature

Washington, 17 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. President Bill Clinton's top aide coordinating the Summit of the Eight in Denver, Colorado this week says Russia's near full participation reflects Moscow's "increased stature in the world and its growing cooperation" with the seven major industrial democracies.

Assistant to the President for International Economic Policy, Daniel Tarullo, says that as importantly, Russia's evolution into an eighth partner in the group "shows that we are not simply dealing with the aftermath of past conflicts and relations."

It means, he told reporters in Washington Monday, "that we are prepared to move on, in a new relationship to confront the new economic and political challenges that face us today."

Tarullo, who arranged the summit in coordination with representatives of the other seven leaders, says that unlike previous summits, Russian President Boris Yeltsin will participate from the beginning to the end of the two and a half day session.

Only one meeting of about an hour on Saturday afternoon will be restricted to the old G-7 group of industrial nations to discuss some mutual economic problems.

For all the rest, the Russia President will be sitting with the leaders of the U.S., Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Canada as they review a long agenda of global issues.

Tarullo says that important global economic problems like keeping international capital markets safe and liquid will continue to be a focus at the Denver summit, much as it was in previous meetings in Lyon, France and Halifax, Canada.

But other issues that have potential long-term effects on people in every nation of the world -- the impact of the globalization of the economy, the rush of technological change, and the rapid aging of the population in many nations -- are going to be centerpieces for summit discussions as well.

"There will be few societal changes more striking than the accelerated aging of our populations in the next century," says Tarullo. "While there is already much attention to the strains that could be placed on public pension and health care systems, there has been less attention to the opportunities for what gerantologists call productive aging."

No quick solutions should be expected from this discussion among major world leaders, cautions Tarullo. But he says these issues affect everyone on earth and the leaders all know that economic and social institutions will have to adopt to the needs and attributes of an older population.

Tarullo predicts that by the end of the summit on Sunday, people will be surprised by the "breadth and detail of cooperation" among the eight in addressing a raft of issues, from transnational crime, to terrorism, to infectious diseases, to nuclear safety.

Like dealing with an aging population, he says, these problems "defy solution by any one nation acting alone and thus demand a cooperative response."

But this summit will not aim to find solutions by simply creating new international bureaucracies, he says. Global organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization serve specific purposes, but these leaders like to focus on finding solutions within existing institutional frameworks, mostly national, and networking those with other countries.

Among the eight, he says, there are already "point-of-contact" systems working in nuclear smuggling, crime, and terrorism. Another one for dealing with the spread of infectious diseases is expected to be put together during the meetings in Denver.

The summit formally opens Friday evening with a working dinner of the eight leaders and concludes Sunday afternoon. Foreign and Finance ministers from the eight nations will also be meeting during the week-end.