Russia can help EU once rescue in place: aide

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Russia said Monday that it was ready to help Europe recover from its debt crisis as soon as its leading nations put aside their differences and came up with a clear rescue plan.

President Dmitry Medvedev's top economic adviser said after talks with Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado that the two sides discussed Russia's participation in a bond purchase plan.

But Kremlin aide Arkady Dvorkovich heaped further pressure on EU giants France and Germany by noting that Russia would only commit to a rescue once a firm plan is in place.

"We expect the European countries to announce a concrete, clear crisis exit strategy," news agencies quoted Arkady Dvorkovich as saying.

"If support from Russia and other BRICS (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) nations is needed within the framework of this strategy, we are ready to render such support," Dvorkovich said.

There was no immediate comment from the Spanish minister and Dvorkovich made clear that "until such a strategy is announced, it is premature to talk about" Russia's involvement.

The Moscow talks were held on the sidelines of a UN Millennium Development Goals meeting that was also attended by Russia's former finance minister and current global financial institution representative Alexei Kudrin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed on Sunday to come up with a response to the eurozone debt crisis within weeks.

Berlin and Paris reportedly differ over how to go about recapitalising banks that are facing massive losses from sovereign debt holdings in deeply troubled nations such as Greece but Sarkozy and Merkel insisted Sunday that there were no differences between them.

Dvorkovich also made clear that Russia had no intention of supporting a financial transaction tax proposed by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

The plan has been slammed as ineffective by critics who argue that traders would simply avoid the added cost by using other global markets.

"We are not against France and Germany introducing this tax. But we will not be supporting collective decisions that include Russia," Medvedev's aide said.

Russia has previously signalled its readiness to expand its eurozone debt holdings in nations with firmer financial standing.

Kudrin himself said at the end of September that Russia would stay away from the bonds of risky countries such as Greece while "slowly growing" its holdings in more stable EU countries.

Kudrin was ousted as finance minister after Medvedev announced plans to cede his presidential cede to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

But he still serves as Russia's representative to some world bodies and may yet play a role in Putin's new Kremlin administration next year.

Dvorkovich said last week that he expected to join Medvedev's new government after Putin's expected return to the Kremlin in March presidential polls.

© 2011 AFP

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