Euro debt crisis is focus of IMF, Kremlin talks

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IMF chief Christine Lagarde met President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday on her first trip to Russia since taking office, with the talks set to be dominated by the eurozone debt crisis.

Russia, which has a relatively low budget deficit and public debt, has not been hit by the debt crises in some EU countries but is nervous of the effect of the mounting problems in the eurozone on its economy.

"We have an opportunity to exchange views about life and the pressing issues of world economy following the G20 summit," Medvedev told Lagarde at the start of the talks.

The two were meeting after attending a G20 economic summit in Cannes, France last week.

Moscow has been looking to increase its profile within the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and has said it was ready to contribute to an EU bailout package through the global financial institution.

"I believe that we will discuss serious problems the world economy and the eurozone in particular are facing," Lagarde said in an interview with Russian broadsheet Kommersant published on Monday.

"I think our discussion will also touch upon the way these events affect the prospects of Russia's economic development as well as economic policy priorities."

The Kremlin did not release the results of the meeting but confirmed earlier that talks would focus on the eurozone crisis as well as "further steps to reform the world financial system."

Medvedev is preparing to leave the Kremlin after agreeing to step aside after just one term and let his mentor Vladimir Putin reclaim his old job in March presidential polls.

"I remembered that life is such a swift-flowing thing, I remembered how you accompanied me during my state visit to Paris," Medvedev mused to the former French finance minister, referring to his March 2010 visit.

Lagarde's programme in Moscow will also include an open lecture at the State University of the Russian Finance Ministry, a Moscow-based IMF spokeswoman said.

Following talks in Russia the IMF chief will visit China and Japan. All three countries have expressed interest in providing financial assistance to Europe, under the IMF's guide or oversight.

The Kremlin has said Russia's contribution being negotiated with the IMF would be limited to $10 billion.

Lagarde has been crossing the Atlantic on trips to Europe since taking the IMF helm in July, participating in negotiations on the eurozone debt crisis and G20 meetings organised by France.

© 2011 AFP

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