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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 19:31 GMT
President Putin shares G8 plans
Damian Grammaticus
By Damian Grammaticas
BBC Moscow correspondent

President Putin outside Kremlin
President Putin has put energy security at the top of the G8 agenda
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said he wants the issue of energy security, for rich and poor nations, to be the focus of Russia's presidency of the G8 group of industrialised nations this year.

Speaking to Russian state television, Mr Putin said two billion people live in nations which suffer energy shortages and do not have access to the modern benefits of civilisation.

He added that world powers are duty bound to create a system that can protect future generations from conflict over energy supplies.

Mr Putin will host a summit of G8 nations' leaders in St Petersburg in July.

Questions asked

Russia wants to make the most of the fact it is the world's second biggest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia, and has the world's largest reserves of gas.

However, Moscow's recent dispute with Ukraine over gas supplies, which affected deliveries to Europe, has already led some to question Russia's reliability as an energy supplier.

Others have questioned whether Russia should be chairing the G8 group of industrialised democracies at all.

They say Russia's economy is far smaller than any of the other members, and under Mr Putin democratic development in Russia has stalled.

But that hasn't deterred Russia's President from setting out other parts of his G8 agenda, which he says will focus on education as a means of preventing the spread of terrorism and xenophobia, and calling for a global response to the threat posed by diseases such as HIV-AIDS and bird flu.

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