The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India at rich club table

New Delhi, Jan. 20: In a fortnight, Palaniappan Chidambaram will sit at the same table with John Snow, Gordon Brown and five other managers of rich nations' treasuries in London in a sign that India sees as recognition of its growing economic strength.

And, of course, there will be China ' an invitee, like India ' and Russia.

'I have been invited to participate at the meeting,' the finance minister told reporters today.

The February 4 meeting is expected to discuss currency stability and other important economic issues that could impact the world economy: for instance, whether or not the US should reduce its current account deficit which hovers around 5.6 per cent of its gross domestic product without triggering a global market turbulence. The deficit arises when a country spends more on imports than it earns from exports.

India will be making its debut at the G7 finance ministers' meeting. China was informally invited to the high table as a guest last October. For some years now, Russia has also been invited to meetings of the group that consists of the US, which will be represented by Snow, the UK ' Prime Minister Tony Blair's challenger Brown should be there ' Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Canada.

Although India is attending the finance ministers' meeting for the first time, Atal Bihari Vajpayee ' when he was Prime Minister ' had attended the G8 summit in the sea resort of Evian in France in June 2003.

French President Jacques Chirac had specially invited Vajpayee for the two-day conference in a gesture that was seen as a breakthrough for Delhi in its quest for a bigger role on the world stage. The ambition has two goals ' membership of the G8 and a seat in the security council.

Put in that context, an invitation to the finance ministers' meeting ' though the political leadership has been expanded and renamed G8, the business club is still a cabal of seven and called G7 ' is just the logical next step.

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