14:27 GMT +321 September 2018
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    Putin to attend Beijing Olympics opening ceremony

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    BEIJING, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will attend the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony on August 8, Russia's foreign minister said on Monday.

    "We expect issues of economic cooperation to be discussed during the meeting between Putin and the Chinese leadership," Sergei Lavrov said at a news conference in Beijing.

    A number of world leaders, including U.S. President George Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have also announced plans to participate in the ceremony.

    However, some world leaders have said they will abstain from participating in the opening of the Games over China's handling of recent protests in Tibet. These include British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Polish Premier Donald Tusk, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

    The first delegation of the Russian Olympics Committee departed for Beijing from Moscow on July 18. The Russian flagship airline Aeroflot will carry the country's Olympic officials, sportsmen and fans to the Games.

    Some members of the Russian Olympic team are currently training in Siberia and the Far East, which have a similar climate and time zone to Beijing.

    It is not yet known whether Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will attend the August 8 opening ceremony.

    The Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    The governor of Russia's second largest city said in early July that St. Petersburg would make a bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

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