CIS leaders meet in Kremlin to discuss organization's reform

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MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - Leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose confederation of former Soviet republics, met Saturday in Moscow's Kremlin to discuss reforming the organization, at an informal CIS summit.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in opening the meeting, thanked the leaders for traveling to Moscow for the informal summit.

"Yesterday evening we had the opportunity to talk in an entirely informal atmosphere. Today our discussions will move forward in a more formal, but I hope entirely free, setting," the Russian leader said.

Leaders of eight of the 11 CIS states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan) arrived in Moscow Friday.

Presidents of Georgia, Ukraine and Armenia Mikheil Saakashvili, Viktor Yushchenko and Robert Kocharyan announced Friday they would not attend the event.

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