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    Russia ready to write off debts of the poorest countries - Putin

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    SVETLOGORSK (Kaliningrad region), July 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is ready to join programs to write off debts of the poorest countries but considers other mechanisms more effective, President Vladimir Putin said Sunday.

    "We shall undoubtedly back initiatives related to the poorest, particularly African countries," Putin told a press conference after the talks with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

    "The current economic and financial condition of Russia lets us support any of these projects," he added.

    However, the president said that international policy should be changed to help the poorest countries.

    Developed countries should cut subsidies to various branches of their economies, open markets and conduct structural reforms, he added.

    Russia is a major creditor of developing countries whose debt to Russia varies from $100-130 billion.

    Moscow wrote off poor countries' debts worth over $300 billion in the past five years. For instance, in January 2005 Russia wrote off $10 billion of Syria's debt.

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