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Russia could repay a $3 billion debt early to the World
Russia could repay a $3 billion debt early to the World Bank in June, a Russian deputy finance minister said on Monday.

"We are likely to pay off single-currency loans only. We are talking about around $3 billion. We plan to pay it off in June," said Dmitry Pankin, who attended the 2008 spring meetings between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) in Washington.

Russia's debt to the WB stands at around $4.5 billion.

Though the issue of Russia's early debt payment was not raised at the Washington meeting, Pankin said, relevant agreements were available, and the process was underway despite technical difficulties.

"As to multi-currency loans, we will see, calculate and attempt to verify each loan. We may repay more later in the year," the official said.

Pankin said Russia's Finance Ministry planned to submit later in April a draft resolution on repaying the final, third tranche of the former Soviet trade debt of around $600-700 million.

Russia is ready to exchange verified claims for Eurobonds. The two previous swaps were made in 2002 and 2006, when $1.28 billion and $1.075 billion were repaid, respectively.

Last Wednesday, the lower house of parliament instructed the State Duma's budget and tax committee to demand information from the Russian government on the reasons for writing off over 90% of Iraqi debt this year.

In February 2008, Moscow cancelled $12 billion of Iraqi debt, or 93% of the total sum ($12.9 billion) owed by the Middle East state. The Russian Finance Ministry said the debt would be cancelled in several stages. In the first stage, 65% would be written off. The remaining $4.5 billion debt would be cancelled in two stages, subject to further negotiations.

"The initiative was not from the Finance Ministry, this was a government decision," Pankin said.

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