G7 invitation gives some solace

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The Independent Online
TOKYO (Reuter, AP) - President Yeltsin won a minor foreign affairs victory yesterday - a seat at the high table of world leaders in July.

Japan said it had invited Mr Yeltsin to Tokyo to the annual summit of the Group of Seven (G7) main industrial nations.

Japan, this year's G7 host, said it would hold a meeting of G7 foreign and finance ministers on 14 and 15 April to consider ways of helping Russia as it attempts the transition to a market-based society. The Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yohei Kono, said a senior Russian official, possibly the Deputy Prime Minister, Boris Fyodorov, or the Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev, would be invited to the April meeting.

Japan has not ruled out bringing forward the date of the July summit, Mr Kono added, echoing recent remarks by the Prime Minister, Kiichi Miyazawa. The announcements follow weeks of consultation among G7 nations on how to support Mr Yeltsin in his battle with the conservative-dominated parliament in Moscow. The G7 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Tokyo is reluctant to extend substantial bilateral economic aid to Moscow until it returns four Pacific islands seized by Soviet troops at the end of the Second World War.

At the same time as the Japanese announcement, a delegation from the European Community headed for Moscow in a show of support for Russia's economic and political reforms.

The group includes the Danish Foreign Minister, Niels Helveg Petersen, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Douglas Hogg, Belgium's Foreign Minister, Willy Claes, and an EC commissioner for external political relations, Hans van den Broek.