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    Russia's health minister called Friday for the creation of international rapid-response units to combat pandemics that arise in the wake of natural disasters.

    MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's health minister called Friday for the creation of international rapid-response units to combat pandemics that arise in the wake of natural disasters.

    Mikhail Zurabov told a meeting with his G8 counterparts: "We need to learn to raise mobile units that could be useful in such circumstances."

    Health ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations will Friday wrap up two days of meetings in Moscow with officials from the EU, World Health Organization, World Bank, and Unaids.

    The talks come in the run-up to the G8's summer summit in St. Petersburg. Russia has declared the fight against infectious diseases a priority for its chairmanship of the group in 2006, along with education and energy security.

    Zurabov said earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and other natural disasters had become more frequent in recent years, and said the idea of creating mobile response units should be included on the agenda of the summit, slated for July 15-17 in St. Petersburg.

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