Putin's aide: Russia is necessary to G-7 as they are to Russia

Igor Shuvalov, President Vladimir Putin's aide and G-8 liaison promised on Thursday that Russia would host the G-8 summit in 2006 professionally and on the high level. He assured the journalists that there had been no argument whatsoever among the G-8 leaders about the Russia's future presidency, nobody ever doubted it.

The decision about Russia's presidency was taken in 2002 on initiative of the French President J. Chirac and the German Chancellor G. Schroeder. According to Mr. Shuvalov, Russia was repeatedly asked by the G-8 leaders to prepare the future summit as thoroughly as possible, as the previous summit host, the UK, couldn't prepare it properly because great deal of resources had been spent on the parliamentary election. During his last visit to Moscow in June the British PM Tony Blair said that the next G-8 summit would have a place in Saint-Petersburg; today Mr. Shuvalov confirmed this information.

"We are as necessary to the G-7 as they are to us," Shuvalov said, cited by Associated Press, adding that Russia needed the other members' help in diversifying its economy away from its excessive reliance on energy exports.

As Associated Press reminds, some members of the U.S. Congress have proposed excluding Russia from the G-8 for alleged backtracking on democracy, but Shuvalov said G-8 leaders were united in their desire to preserve Russia's membership. The leaders have their differences, he said, "but in general their attitude toward our country and our president are very positive."

The Group of Seven highly industrialized countries turned down a U.S. proposal to invite Russia to join as a full member in 1992 - a proposal made as a political gesture to encourage democracy in Russia - but accepted Russia's full-fledged membership a decade later, informs AP.

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