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    Writing off poor countries' debts cannot solve problems - Putin

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that writing-off debts of the world's poorest countries could not resolve their problems and proposed changing the system of economic relations causing these debts.

    MOSCOW, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that writing-off debts of the world's poorest countries could not resolve their problems and proposed changing the system of economic relations causing these debts.

    On June 6, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Russia would write off $700 million worth of debt owed by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, mainly in Africa.

    But Putin urged caution while addressing a Civil G8 2006 forum of NGOs in Moscow. "We should not regard writing-off debts as helping economic development," he said.

    He said the existing system of international economic relations should be changed in order to prevent new debts.

    Wading into the debate over agricultural subsidies that many have suggested are holding back development in Africa, Putin said NGOs in member countries of the Group of Eight would protect subsidies used by their countries, mainly in agriculture.

    He said that "this would cause new growth of debts" that would have to be written off later.

    The Doha round of world trade talks has all but ground to a halt over agricultural protectionism, particularly the European Union's defense of its Common Agricultural Policy, which several developing countries have claimed gives it an unfair advantage.

    Putin also said Russia was the world's third leading country in terms of complete debt write-offs for the poorest countries.

    The leaders of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Japan and Canada will join Putin in St. Petersburg for Russia's debut G8 summit on July 15-17.

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