Russia has joined the discussion of programmes for empowering the world's poorest countries, said Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin after the session of the G-8 finance ministers in Washington.
At the meeting, Kudrin delivered a special paper regarding Russia's aid to poorer countries. He stressed that Russia is a major contributor for the world's poorest countries, in particular, the countries of Africa. According to him, Russia has written off $34.6 billion in 1996-2002.
Kudrin pointed out that Russia was involved in the leading world initiatives, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, where its contribution amounts to $20 million and in the Trust Fund for the Poorest Countries. In addition, the Russian Cabinet has decided to allot $250,000 to establish two centres of technical aid in Africa.
The Deputy Prime Minister also said that around 80% of the poorest countries' products were imported to Russia practically without any customs dues, and the list of duty-free goods was to be enlarged soon.
Kudrin said that the issues of support for the poorest countries were central to the meeting of the G8 finance ministers. One of them is how to increase the efficiency of the western countries' aid, in particular, by curtailing subsidies for the developed countries' agriculture, as they limit export opportunities for the poorest countries' produce. Kudrin believes this kind of aid is even more efficient than loans and grants." The issue of providing the world's poorest countries with potable water was discussed particularly.
Russia's Ambassador to Belarus, Mikhail Babich, said that Moscow would treat any military intervention in the affairs of Belarus as an attack on Russia
The month of October was rich with rare astronomical phenomena.