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    Russia-U.S. dialog goes on despite media criticism - Gref

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    Russia and the United States are carrying on a proactive dialogue despite intense media debate of Russia's democratic and economic record, economics minister German Gref said Friday.

    LONDON, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the United States are carrying on a proactive dialogue despite intense media debate of Russia's democratic and economic record, economics minister German Gref said Friday.

    "Despite [critical] debate in the media, we are maintaining an extremely constructive dialogue with our American partners in all areas," said Gref, who is currently in London preparing an international economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia's second city, due in mid June.

    Gref said preparations for a summit of the G8 club of industrialized nations, to be held in St. Petersburg in July, and bilateral talks with the U.S. on Russia's World Trade Organization bid were vivid examples of positive cooperation.

    The statements by Gref, known as a champion of liberal economic reform in Russia, is in contrast with earlier remarks by Russian politicians and officials, who accused Washington of stalling WTO talks with Russia for political reasons and who said the country's accession to the trade body could be delayed indefinitely.

    The U.S. and Australia are the last of the 58 members of the organization with which Russia has yet to complete accession talks.

    Some political groups and the media in the West have criticized Russia for a poor democratic and human rights record, as well as what they call a politically motivated energy policy. Some politicians have even called for boycotting the G8 summit in Russia.

    Gref said the St. Petersburg economic forum would focus on globalization and competitive advantages of developing countries - Brazil, Russia, India, and China - whose representatives will attend the forum. The forum will also look into the Russian economy's weak and strong points, he said.

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