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Blair in Moscow for G8 Summit

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has arrived in Moscow for the first of a series of talks with world leaders to discuss Africa and climate change ahead of the G8 summit, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported on Sunday.

Blair will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

Blair's spokesman said Russia was a signatory to the Kyoto treaty on climate change and it was expected to be supportive of Britain's agenda for Africa.

"We believe they have an important role in terms of urging others to sign up to what we are trying to achieve in Africa," the spokesman said.

Other topics under discussion with Putin would be bilateral issues such as EU-Russia economic links, as Britain takes over the EU presidency in July, and human rights.

Blair, who flew to Moscow on Sunday, will also use visits to Berlin and Paris to press for a commitment to further aid.

He returned from talks in the United States last week after securing a pledge from President George Bush on debt relief. The two leaders will seek backing for their plan at the G8 summit on July 6-8 in Gleneagles, Scotland. But they failed to agree on taking action against climate change.

On Saturday, the world's richest countries agreed to write off the debt owed by 18 mainly African countries.

Under the package agreed by G8 finance ministers meeting in London, the world's richest countries said they would write off the US$40 billion debt owed to them.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Fund will immediately write off 100 percent of the money owed them by nations including Benin, Bolivia, Ethiopia and Ghana.

Blair will also hold talks in Luxembourg whose presidency of the EU the UK will take over in July.

He will then visit French President Jacques Chirac in Paris, as well as attending a seminar with him and United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan.

(Xinhua News Agency June 13, 2005)

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