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Russia at the Summit: more benefits than risks

by Lynne Driscoll

Thursday, June 18, 1997, 5:00 p.m.

As the world awaits the arrival of the heavy hitters in Denver, summit watchers are making their predictions of what this first Summit of the Eight is likely to bring forth.

One hot topic of discussion centres over Russia's inclusion in the club. "Russia deserves to be in the group and can contribute responsibly," said Professor John Kirton of the University of Toronto's G7 Research Team. Russia has passed the democratic threshold, according to Kirton, but it retains a military occupation in Japan's northern territories and continues to struggle to ratify international arms agreements. It is however, possible to bring the country along as it makes advancements in these and other areas said Kirton. With respect to Japan's position on Russia, Professor Michael Hawes of Queen's University suggested that Japan is ambivalent on inclusion as long as the participation of the Russians is limited to the political side of the summit. According to Hawes, a long time G7 Research team member, Russia is not even close to being ready for economic inclusion.

In its 22 years of existence, the G7 Summit has continued to evolve says Sir Nicholas Bayne, a former advisor to Britain's delegations to the summit and the co-author of the analysis of the G7 process, "Hanging Together." "In my view, the absorption of the Russians comes as no surprise and would have come sooner if not for the reluctance of the Japanese," said Bayne. The inclusion of Russia does, however, run the risk of prompting other countries to knock on the door for inclusion as well. "The seven will see the benefit of having the Russians in discussions on terrorism and the environment," said Bayne so as to offset any disadvantages of its inclusion.

"The next one on the list in terms of economic strength is China" said Bayne. Possible summit attendees in the future could include Mexico, Brazil and India.

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