DUSHANBE, February 16, Asia-Plus - Tajikistan together with a country in Southeast Asia has been added to a list of the world’s poorest countries and its debts will written off, Russian “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” reported citing Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin as telling the president this at the government meeting on February 13.

As it had been reported earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin insists that some CIS states should be recognized as poorest and have their debts to international loan organizations written off, within the framework of the G-8 initiative.  Putin noted this at the meeting with Russian Cabinet on February 13.  "We agreed from the beginning that we have very acute problems related to education, the fight against infectious diseases and poverty - both in this country and our immediate neighbors - CIS states," Putin said.

"So the money envisioned for helping the poorest states - we should initially agree with the partners that a considerable portion of these resources should go for supporting our neighbors in CIS states in the post-Soviet space," he said.  By objective characteristics, some of these states already belong to the group of the world''s poorest countries, Putin added.

Ms. Larisa Sariyeva, chairperson of the department for external debt of the Ministry of Finance, has told Asia -Plus that the question of Tajikistan ’s US$99 million debt to the International Monetary Fund, which will be written off by the end of 2006.  At present Tajikistan ’s external debt amounts to US$894 million, according to Ms. Sariyeva.  “We welcome this initiative that will facilitate debt burden of our country,” Larisa Sariyeva said.