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    Putin, Schroeder and Chirac discuss UN reform, Iraq in Kaliningrad

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    KALININGRAD, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed a broad range of issues, from UN reform to Iraq, with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Sunday during a routine visit to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea.

    Putin told a news conference after the talks that he hoped for productive cooperation with the Germany and France next year, when Russia holds the rotating presidency over the G8, an organization uniting the world's leading industrialized nations.

    Putin said: "Energy security might become a priority on the G8 agenda in this period. I have no doubt that the G8 will borrow from the experience of the Russia-EU dialogue when making the relevant preparations."

    The Russian leader added that they had considered a number of issues related to this week's G8 summit in Scotland. "I should say that we are pleased with the interaction with our French and German colleagues in the G8," he said.

    Putin mentioned that Russia was ready to take part in the schemes to write off poor countries' debts. But he said changing international policy rather than the volume of investment could be the most effective way to solve the problems of poor states. In particular, he proposed that the industrialized countries cut back on subsidies, open up their markets and conduct institutional reforms.

    The president said the debates on UN reform must not lead to conflicts within or a split of the organization. He said various schemes to reform the Security Council had been proposed.

    "Russia will agree to any reasonable proposal that is supported by the broadest possible majority of states," the president said. "The most important thing is to ensure that the debates on reform will not split the organization, provoke conflict or common misunderstanding, or turn the UN into a mere discussion club that is incapable of solving important problems."

    Putin told journalists that Russia would support Germany's permanent membership on the UN Security Council.

    While talking about Iraq, the Russian leader called on members of the international community to put the differences they had had behind them and to pool efforts so that the Iraqis could take the country's fate into their own hands.

    The president said he did not believe Russia's decision not to participate in the Iraq operation was a political defeat. "Does it mean that if our soldiers are not dying in Iraq, we have lost? I don't think so," Putin said in response to a question.

    Putin also emphasized that Russia had been granted observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which unites more than a billion Muslims, a few days earlier.

    "I hope this will already enable us to make a positive contribution to solving the Iraq problem," Putin said.

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