Russian foreign policy
Russian policy in Africa
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RUSSIA BLOCKS G8 PROPOSAL TO BAN ARMS EXPORTS TO AFRICA

Britain's proposal for a global arms trade treaty to stop African nations spending billions of dollars on weapons has been blocked by Russia, the Independent reported Wednesday.

Tony Blair is unlikely to even raise the issue at Gleneagles after Russia made clear it would block a firm commitment to such an international agreement being included in the summit declaration on Friday.

Pressure groups say Russia sells more arms to sub-Saharan Africa than any other G8 nation, with $700m of sales between 2000 and 2003, providing almost a quarter of all the arms bought by sub-Saharan countries.

British government sources said yesterday the proposal for a binding treaty was not expected to be discussed at Gleneagles but would be "taken forward" by officials of the G8 nations after discussion by their foreign ministers last month.

However, little progress is likely next year because Russia will take over the G8 presidency from Britain for 12 months from January.

One of the recommendations of the Commission for Africa set up by Mr Blair was for negotiations on an international arms treaty to be opened no later than next year.

Campaign groups have accused G8 leaders of double standards, warning that selling billions of dollars of weapons to African nations takes vital resources away from projects on health, education, food and water and allows some regimes to repress their own people.

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