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    SHEMURSHA (Chuvashia), February 5th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Oleg Osipov) - In his concluding remarks at a conference on the development problems of rural areas, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the living standards in rural areas should be raised.

    "If we want people to stay in villages, we should boost the development of the agro-industrial sector and make it competitive, we should eliminate the obstacles of the way of rural development. To this end, living standards in villages should be raised," stressed Vladimir Putin.

    The Russian president also noted that the experience of the Chuvash republic and its consistent approach to the solution of these problems would come handy.

    Putin thanked all the conferees for the discussion and stressed that the theme of the conference was extremely important for both Chuvashia and entire Russia. "I also hope that you were interested to learn the opinion of the government on this problem and the relevant plans of the cabinet," said the president.

    He emphasised that the proposals voiced at the conference would find practical application.

    According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, the conference highlighted the development of mortgage system in rural areas, of healthcare, education, transport infrastructure and communications.

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