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Russia pledges more money to UN programs


MOSCOW, October 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has become economically robust enough to raise its contribution to UN aid and development programs, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko said Monday.

"Russia's [improved] economic situation has enabled [it] to increase the humanitarian, donor component of [its] aid to nations affected by conflicts," Yakovenko said at the opening of a photography exhibition in Moscow marking the 60th anniversary of the UN.

The deputy minister said Russia had donated tens of millions of dollars to UN aid programs in recent years and that it was going to spend even more in the future. "I would like to express hope that our cooperation with the UN will not just continue but will be stepped up."

He stressed the need to grant the UN a leading role in dealing with international problems, including terrorism, and said UN reform should bring nations together rather than divide them.

Russia's state coffers have been bolstered by record-high world oil prices. Taxes and export duties on crude sold above the $27-per-barrel cut-off price are put into a stabilization fund, which was designed to cushion the economy against possible price fluctuations and to control inflation. Predicted to reach one trillion rubles ($36.3 billion) by the end of the year, the fund has been used to pay down Russia's foreign debts early. The government is also contemplating channeling part of the windfall oil revenues into various infrastructure and development projects.

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