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  Sunday, September 22, 2019
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Russian President Vladimir Putin will leave for Heiligendamm in Germany Wednesday for a three-day G8 summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will cede power next year, will leave for Heiligendamm in Germany Wednesday for a three-day G8 summit. U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Europe are expected to top the agenda, with other issues such as climate change, the Middle East and the Iranian nuclear program also up for discussion. Russian presidential aide Igor Shuvalov said: "Our president will play the role of an insider, and I think [the summit] will have an interesting format for him." The Kremlin said it expected the 33rd summit to yield interesting discussions, as there will be one new and two outgoing leaders participating, with Putin stepping down as president next year, when his term of office comes to an end. Shuvalov said the Russian president would feel more confident than some other G8 leaders. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who steps down June 27, will have an opportunity to be more open. "He will be responsible for his nation in a longer term, and will not be concerned about disciplinary penalties from his own party or his Cabinet," Shuvalov said. France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who was elected mid-May, is expected to make "interesting" statements, as documents for the summit have been drafted without his participation. "That will be very interesting," Shuvalov said. Putin will hold bilateral meetings with U.S. President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese leader Hu Jintao. In an interview with the press from the G8 countries ahead of the summit Putin described the G8 forum as "a useful and interesting event" for coordinating opinion on the key issues on the global economy and international agenda. In an interview last Thursday Bush said he would try to persuade the Russian and Chinese leaders to toughen sanctions against Iran. At their second bilateral meeting since the APEC summit last November Putin and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will discuss the Kuril islands. Japan considers the islands of Iturup, Kunashir and Shikotan and the Habomai islands to be under illegal occupation and is proposing their "return" as a condition for signing a peace treaty with Russia. Putin said although he did not consider the Kurils "disputable", Russia understood Japanese motives and was looking for a solution to the problem.
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