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    RUSSIAN DELEGATION LEADER HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF WORLD DIAMOND FORUM

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    ABU DHABI, April 1, 2004, (RIA NOVOSTI) - Russia's participation in the World Diamond Council's latest session in Dubai has been very important and useful to this country, the Russian delegation's leader, Vyacheslav Shtyrov, said in a RIA interview. He is also President of the autonomous republic of Yakutia (Sakha), Russia's largest producer of rough diamonds.

    The World Diamond Council holds its sessions once a year. About one hundred prominent members of the global diamond community attended this year's event.

    Russia, which ranks among the world's major diamond producers, is part of all of the international diamond community's gatherings, Shtyrov said.

    According to him, the Dubai discussions embraced a wide range of issues relating to international diamond trade, not least the problem of preventing the flow of so-called "conflict diamonds" from Africa to markets in Europe and the United States. A special role in the efforts to exclude such diamonds from international trade belongs to the Kimberley Process, a structure grouping some seventy countries.

    The Kimberley Process was launched in the year 2000 to impede export and import operations involving rough diamonds sold to finance the activity of terrorist and subversion groups.

    In the past four years, the Kimberley Process member nations have passed a number of important resolutions, including on mandatory testing of diamonds for cleanliness of origin and on the control of diamond production. These resolutions received enthusiastic support from the Dubai gathering, the Yakut President said.

    "To us, this forum has been especially important as next year Russia will take over the Kimberley Process rotating presidency from Canada," Shtyrov explained. "In the runup to this event, we closely followed [related] debates, making intensive contacts in the context of the role that Russia is to play in the Kimberley Process' activities," he said.

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