U.S. Senator says majority of senators do not want to expel Russia from G-8

Calls to expel Russia from the G-8 do not reflect the opinion of the majority United States senators, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar said.

Last week U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations adopted a resolution calling for the suspension of Russia's G-8 membership.

In a meeting with the head of the Russian Audit Chamber, Sergei Stepashin, in Washington, Mr. Lugar said that his committee does not plan to discus the issue. The information department of the Audit Chamber reported on Mr. Lugar's statements today.

During the meeting, the sides discussed the spending of a $4.8 billion tranche allocated to Russia by the International Monetary Fund in 1998. Mr. Stepashin told Mr. Lugar that an Audit Chamber audit did not confirm allegations that these funds did not reach Russia in full.

In Washington, Mr. Stepashin also met with David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States. The sides discussed cooperation between the Russian and U.S. accounting departments in the implementation of a program to eliminate chemical weapons.

The U.S. Congress authorized an allocation of over $0.5 billion to Russia primarily for the construction of a facility to eliminate chemical weapons in the Kurgan region. Only one-fifth of the amount has been allocated so far. The United States wants Russia to streamline its spending on the construction of the facility.

In connection with this, Mr. Stepashin said that according to the results of an Audit Chamber audit last year, legal proceedings have been initiated against a number of executives for overestimating the volumes and cost of work, and that the shortcomings revealed are being eliminated.

The sides said that cooperation between the accounting departments in the destruction of chemical weapons contributes to Russian-U.S. cooperation in this field.

The sides agreed on their positions before a meeting of an International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (Intosai) working group on combating money laundering. The meeting starts in Washington on Tuesday.

The working group was created on the initiative of the Russian Audit Chamber last year to pool the efforts of audit bodies from over 170 countries in identifying the sources of financing international terrorism.

Closing the channels of financing terrorism is a priority task facing the audit bodies of all civilized countries, stressed the participants of the meeting.

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