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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

World Bank Shows Readiness to Extend $800M Loan

TOKYO — World Bank President James Wolfensohn on Monday said Russia may soon be approved for a $800 million loan, and that the loan conditions will likely be based on the Russian government’s own mid-term economic plan.

"I think Russia can count on the $800 million in the next period," said Wolfensohn, in Tokyo for a conference.

Russia’s 2001 budget plans assume the World Bank will approve the full loan amount.

Wolfensohn, who met in October with President Vladimir Putin, said Bank officials are happy with Putin’s plans for economic growth and political reform and are "very anxious" to provide financial aid.

"Unless something has happened in the last few days — and I don’t think it has — negotiations with the government are normal and I know of no crisis," Wolfensohn said. The Bank will not impose a set of loan conditions and instead will let Russia map out a course for its own economy, he added.

Wolfensohn’s remarks signal that the Bank is ready to resume its large-scale lending program with Russia, which has bounced back from an economic crisis in 1998 that sent foreign investment fleeing and forced the government to devalue the country’s currency, the ruble.

The World Bank has been among Russia’s most generous lenders, and this year was the first to offer money to Russia after Putin’s election in March, in the form of a $60 million loan to the forestry industry. The Bank has launched nearly 50 projects in Russia, worth $11 billion, since 1992.

Wolfensohn also turned his attention to Japan, urging lawmakers not to cut back financial assistance to developing countries. Japan, the world’s largest donor of official development assistance, last year contributed $15.3 billion and so far this year has spent $9.37 billion.

Japanese media have reported that the government may slash its donations by as much as 30 percent next year.