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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Premier Asks Italy for Spot In G-7 Pact

ROME -- Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, accused by domestic opponents of attempting to block political change, was quoted on Thursday as vowing to keep Russia on a reformist course.

The embattled premier, on a visit to Rome, told Italian Prime Minister Carlo Azeglio Ciampi he hoped Russia would be admitted to the Group of Seven industrialized nations this year, and that his country aimed to work towards full membership of the European Union.

Chernomyrdin "showed us that he is firmly determined that the reform program in the Russian Federation will go ahead," Ciampi said after the meeting.

The Italian prime minister said Chernomyrdin told him "not only will Russia not backtrack on reforms, but it is decisively intent on pursuing them."

Chernomyrdin said he hoped the Group of Seven would incorporate Russia when it meets in Naples in July.

"We hope that in Naples the G-7 will become the G-8," he said.In a joint statement, Italy confirmed an invitation to Yeltsin to join the Naples gathering.

Italy holds the rotating presidency of the Group of Seven, and has already pledged itself to propose an agenda recognizing equal rights for the Russians.

Chernomyrdin said Russia also wants to move towards EU membership.

Chernomyrdin was due to meet Pope John Paul and business leaders on Friday before leaving for Zurich on Saturday.