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Moscow Times
July 8, 2009
Dvorkovich Downplays Dollar Focus for G8
By Nadia Popova / The Moscow Times

Russias agenda at the Group of Eight summit will include international disaster relief, North Korea and the Middle East, but President Dmitry Medvedev will make little mention of new reserve currencies, his economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich said Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference dedicated to the three-day G8 summit starting Wednesday in LAquila, Italy, Dvorkovich said Russia would not discuss the creation of new reserve currencies as an alternative to the dollar an issue that has long been a Kremlin pet topic and that has recently won a measure of support from India and China.

The currency debate will not be discussed at the G8, Dvorkovich said.

China and Russia, however, will state that the creation of any reserve currencies is a gradual process that needs evolutionary development, Dvorkovich said. This is connected with the creation of several regional reserve currencies, which may then become international.

China, the worlds largest holder of U.S. government debt, is slated to discuss proposals for a currency to replace the dollar on Thursday, during a meeting of the G14, a group that combines the G8 with developing countries such as Brazil and India.

The issue has lately gained some traction beyond Russia and China. India said Monday that the world financial system was too dependent on the dollar, while France hinted Sunday that the currencys future could be discussed in the near term.

The debate, however, has so far largely been theoretical, with most G8 members going out of their way to note that the dollars future as a reserve currency was assured for years to come.

Dvorkovich described the summit agenda as packed, even in the absence of a discussion on global currencies.

One of Russias proposals will be a treaty on cooperation in international disaster relief, Dvorkovich said.

Russia has significant experience in this, and we want to share it, he said.

Dvorkovich said Russia was helping Italy tackle the aftermath of an earthquake that took place in April in LAquila, where the summit will be held. The quake killed around 300 people and left some 65,000 homeless.

Medvedev will place special emphasis on discussing the Middle East and North Korea, Dvorkovich said.

Medvedev will meet with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak in addition to other leaders, Kremlin spokesman Alexei Pavlov said Tuesday.

A meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Taro in particular may be thorny.

On Friday, Japans parliament unanimously passed a law asserting sovereignty over the Kuril Islands, which both Japan and Russia claim as their territory. The Federation Council on Monday called the move an insult.

Food security was also on the presidents agenda, Dvorkovich said.

President Medvedev will share the conclusions he made when he traveled around Africa with his colleagues, Dvorkovich said.

When asked about a different food issue meat imports to Russia from the U.S. Dvorkovich said the problems had not been resolved during President Barack Obamas visit.

There is a strong meat lobby in the U.S., and it restrains our cooperation in many other spheres, Dvorkovich said.