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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Made a Full G-8 Member

APPresident Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush speaking with reporters Thursday after the late-night negotiations.
KANANASKIS, Alberta -- President Vladimir Putin secured much of what he sought to accomplish at the G-8 summit on Thursday, with members recognizing Russia was a full member of their exclusive club and could host a summit.

Participants at the summit at the Canadian mountain resort of Kananaskis said Russia, now attending its 10th annual meeting, had won the right to hold the summit in 2006.

"The world is changing. Russia has demonstrated its potential to play a full and meaningful role in addressing the global problems that we all face," a G8 statement said. "This decision reflects the remarkable economic and democratic transformation that has occurred in Russia in recent years, and in particular under the leadership of President Putin."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the G-7, a grouping that excluded Russia and focused on economic issues, would cease to exist after Britain hosts the summit in 2005.

"It's a very big step forward and it's a very strong message of support for president Putin and his reforms in Russia," he said.

Russia unofficially joined discussions of what was then the Group of Seven industrialized nations after the fall of communist rule in 1991 and it has been a member of a renamed Group of Eight for the past two years.

The other members are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

But Russian officials, for whom membership is a matter prestige in the international arena, had long been lobbying for the right to stage a G-8 summit.

Putin, who flew into Calgary a day later than the other leaders, had not been invited to the start of the first session or to a Tuesday evening dinner.

Putin has met most of his fellow G-8 leaders in recent weeks, hosting talks with U.S. President George W. Bush which culminated in a new arms pact and securing a place for Moscow in a Russia-NATO Council.

In Kananaskis, he pointed to economic successes in hoisting Russia out of its 1998 financial collapse and pressed for further backing for Moscow's bid to become the last major country to join the World Trade Organization.

Putin has made securing WTO membership a key policy aim.

The organization's head, Mike Moore, has suggested that this might be achieved next year, although negotiations on Russian accession made little progress in Geneva last week.

Official said this was rooted in slow moves to liberalize banking, insurance, telecommunications and other areas.

On other matters, Putin has little need to prove to other leaders that he has reoriented Moscow's foreign policy to take a Western-friendly stance.

He backed the U.S.-led war on terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks and made no objections to the dispatch of U.S. troops to ex-Soviet states. He also signed an arms control pact with Bush on terms generally sought by Washington and dropped, albeit begrudgingly, objections to further NATO expansion.