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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Says G8 Riddle Is Solved

Russia said on Tuesday it would chair meetings of finance ministers from the Group of Eight nations next year, potentially boosting its standing in a global policy forum it has in the past attended as a mere observer.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the first meeting would be held on Feb. 10-11 in Moscow, with a further session in late May or early June in St. Petersburg -- the venue of Russia's first full G8 summit in July.

The announcement finesses what had become an awkward diplomatic problem: Former President Boris Yeltsin was first invited to a Group of Seven summit in 1997, and Russia won full political membership of an enlarged G8 in 2002.

It assumes the rotating presidency of the body in 2006.

But Moscow remains an onlooker when finance ministers from the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada discuss issues like exchange rates under the close scrutiny of international investors.

A senior official played down the importance of the new format, saying Russia had become increasingly involved in group initiatives over the years such as ensuring stable world energy supplies.

"This club doesn't have any rules. You can view it how you like -- full membership or not," said Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak.

But, he added, the group's relationship was evolving with Russia as well as with other leading emerging nations -- China, India, Brazil and South Africa -- which may be invited to the meetings.

Central bankers are also expected to attend, a government official said. A spokesman for the Bank of England said Governor Mervyn King was likely to attend the February meeting.