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LONDON, March 12 (RIA Novosti, Alexander Smotrov) - The London meeting of G8 ministers of labor and employment (March 10-11) focused on the influence of demographic changes on the able-bodied population, Russian Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov told journalists.

"Russia is currently facing the problems which have become urgent in Europe and need practical solutions," the minister noted. In his words, the able-bodied population will be growing in Russia until 2008.

Not only the ministers of labor and employment but also businessmen and representatives of trade unions took part in the London meeting, Mr. Zurabov said.

The sides discussed mechanisms of control over the able-bodied population which depends on demographic processes. Among these mechanisms are the extension of the retirement age, external migration and the creation of an 'effective ageing' system letting pensioners continue working, Mr. Zurabov added.

"All sides agreed that G8 problems can be hardly solved without external migration," the Russian minister stressed. However, this is a rather sensitive issue and public opinions on external migration differ, he noted adding that it should not be regarded as the only way to solve demographic problems.

Speaking about Russia's role in these debates, Mikhail Zurabov said that Russia and other G8 countries shared common concerns in this sphere. "If at issue were the quality of health care or children's mortality, Russia would not have made a big contribution to this discussion," he noted.

"As far as approaches to the modernization of the pension system or the employment of pensioners and youth are concerned, we do not look tragic," Mr. Zurabov stressed.