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BBC Monitoring
Russian premier, minister give different signals on investment at forum
Source: NTV, Moscow, in Russian 0600 gmt 18 Jun 03

A Russian commercial TV company has suggested that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Trade Minister German Gref have been giving different signals about investment prospects at the St Petersburg economic forum. The following is an excerpt from the report by Russian NTV on 18 June:

[Presenter] Russia is looking for 1 bn dollars from foreign investors to resolve its eternal problem of bad roads.

Negotiations with potential creditors are to commence at the 7th annual economic forum in St Petersburg today. [Passage omitted]

[Correspondent] Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will open the forum for a third time. He is optimistic. The heads of major western companies have arrived in St Petersburg and they are ready to invest in Russia.

[Kasyanov, captioned] I have already met the heads of some companies [Kasyanov met Rex W. Tillerson, Senior Vice-President of ExxonMobil Corporation on 17 June] who are very positive about further investment work in the Russian Federation. Moreover, they are referring to large-scale investments which are very important to us. The trends in Russian economic development have been assessed very positively. We will try to consolidate these expectations at the forum.

[Correspondent] Kasyanov intends to consolidate on the expectations after the official part of the forum, at a meeting in a narrow circle. Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref, whose ministry is represented on the organizational committee of the forum for the first time, sounds less optimistic. [Passage omitted]

[Gref, captioned] Our ambitions today are to increase competitiveness, particularly in processing industries. In relation to this, the government has adopted a renewed medium-term programme. This issue will also be discussed at the forum and it will obviously become the main objective of the person elected as president [in March 2004] and for that person's government in the next four years.

[Correspondent] The president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Jean Lemierre will attend the economic forum this year.

[Passage omitted]

Lemierre plans to meet Russian power grid chief executive Anatoliy Chubays on 19 June. It is expected that an agreement will be signed at the meeting, granting the energy company Lenenergo a 40m dollar loan repayable over seven years.

[Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0220 gmt 18 Jun 03 quoted Gref as saying that the ministry's forecast for Russian economic growth in the second quarter of 2003 (April-June 2003) was 6 per cent.]

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