G8 sees solid growth

Moscow, February 11:

Group of Eight (G8) finance ministers have drawn up a draft communique warning that high, volatile energy prices menace solid world economic growth in 2006, a European source said here today.

The draft statement says world “growth remains solid and should be maintained in 2006,” said a European source at the G8, who spoke on condition of anonymity. But “risks remain, notably high and volatile energy prices,” the statement warns, according to the source. The powerful G8 policymakers were meeting in a heavily guarded hotel near Red Square to put the final touches to the communique, which will be issued after the talks wrap up.

Russia is for the first time hosting its partners from the club of most industrialised powers — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US. But Moscow, which has deep oil and gas resources and has benefitted hugely from high oil prices, has found itself under strong pressure to help ensure smooth world supplies.

Russia shocked many of its partners when it turned off natural gas supplies to Ukraine in January during a dispute over demands for sharply higher prices. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin promised yesterday that Russia would eventually ratify a 1991 energy charter aimed at facilitating gas flows across Europe and the former Soviet Union. But he gave no timetable for doing so.

A senior Japanese official told reporters at the outset of the negotiations here yesterday that high oil prices were viewed as the gravest risk to global economic growth. Ministers would press for greater investment in oil production and refining, he said.

Russia seeks deal on debt

MOSCOW: Russia is hoping to use today’s meeting of finance ministers from the G8 to strike a deal to repay $11-12 billion of the debt it owes to the wo-rld’s richest nations.

Russia wants the money it repays to the so-called Paris Club of creditor nations, which include all the G8 me-mbers, to be used to help write off debts owed by the world’s poorest

nations. — The Guardian