Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

World Leaders Grant Russia $20Bln

APPresident Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair preparing for a G-8 group photograph as their counterparts admire the view of the mountains in Kananaskis.
KANANASKIS, Alberta -- The world's seven wealthiest countries agreed Thursday to spend $20 billion to help Russia dismantle stockpiled weapons.

President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush sealed the 10-year pact on Russia in one-on-one talks as an economic summit of the world's industrial powers drew to a close.

World leaders meeting at a remote Canadian Rockies resort said that the agreement to provide up to $20 billion in support for Russia's efforts to safeguard its weapons stockpiles was driven by concerns that the materials could fall into the hands of terrorists.

"The attacks of Sept. 11 demonstrated the terrorists are prepared to use any means to cause terror and inflict appalling casualties on innocent people," the G-8 leaders said in a joint statement announcing the Russia agreement.

The statement said the summit nations were launching "a new G-8 global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction."

The statement said the wealthy nations would explore canceling some of Russia's old Soviet government debts and the debts of other countries willing to devote the money saved to accelerate efforts to safeguard materials that could be used by terrorists.

Under the proposal, the United States would spend $1 billion a year for 10 years on the program. Its partners from Europe, Japan and Canada together would contribute a similar amount over the same time.

Putin and Bush had reached tentative agreement Wednesday on the money issue, but their staffs negotiated late into the night and Thursday morning over Russia's obligations.

Russia agreed to provide the G-7 partners access to disposal sites, such as facilities where nuclear submarines are dismantled, the U.S. official said. Moscow also has ensured adequate auditing and oversight authority to its partners.

The agreement, long sought by the United States, is part of a broader campaign to increase cooperation between the United States and Russia on international issues such as nuclear proliferation. Bush and Putin recently agreed to reduce their nuclear stockpiles.

In Thursday's talks, the pair committed their countries to a united fight against terror. "Unfortunately, terrorism is of a global nature," said Putin. "... Joint efforts are essential if we want to be successful in this fight."

Bush called Putin "an ally -- a strong ally in the war against terror and his actions speak louder than his words."

The G-8 also agreed to increased aid and foreign investment to countries in Africa that are willing to eliminate government corruption and pursue free-market reforms. The G-8 joint action plan on Africa also will support creation of an African peacekeeping force by 2003 as part of an effort to deal with the protracted conflicts in Congo, Sudan and Angola. The action plan also committed the G-8 countries to working toward a goal of earmarking 50 percent of their promised increases in foreign aid in coming years to Africa.

Much of the talk here was preoccupied with Bush's three-day-old Middle East peace plan and his allies' hesitance to embrace the United States position that an independent Palestine is only possible if Palestinians replace Yasser Arafat as their leader.

Bush, as he opened meetings with Putin in a small windowless room, said: "I'm very pleased with the response to my proposal on the Middle East. The response has been very positive."

Earlier this week, Putin said bluntly that it would be "dangerous and mistaken" to remove Arafat, saying such an action risked a "radicalization of the Palestinian people." On Thursday, Putin's foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, reiterated the Russian view: "We must work with the leadership in place, including Arafat."

Other countries did not endorse Bush's call for the ouster of Arafat.

The G-8 leaders also pondered how to offer assurances to global financial markets, which were sent tumbling Wednesday with WorldCom Inc.'s announcement that it had disguised $3.8 billion of expenses. Putin said Bush, in the summit's private meetings, paid a lot of attention to corporate accounting scandals, reassuring counterparts that his administration would investigate and prosecute wrongdoers. "For me and my other colleagues it was very important to listen to the president's opinion because under the circumstances of the globalized community and world, a lot depends on the state of the U.S. economy these days," Putin said.