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Russia, Brazil call first BRIC summit for 2009

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on Wednesday for the first summit of major emerging market countries known as BRICs in Russia next year.

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The BRIC nations, a popular acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China, have hastened moves to take a greater say in world affairs and the global economy in response to the world financial crisis emanating from the United States.

“The financial crisis, which we haven’t started and we are not to blame for, affected the global economic situation and we are forced to react,” Medvedev told reporters after signing a joint declaration with Lula in Rio de Janeiro.

“We agreed with President Lula that we will coordinate our efforts with Brazil in fighting the crisis and creating a new global financial architecture.”

The countries -- the world’s four largest emerging markets -- met as a group for the first time at a G20 gathering of finance ministers in Sao Paulo this month and put out a joint statement calling for a greater say in world affairs and the global economy.

Lula and Medvedev did not say if China and India had agreed to the 2009 meeting.

“BRIC is an important force in discussing global problems. We have high expectations from the BRIC summit,” Lula said.

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“We, the developing countries, should not allow the crisis to harm our development. We must jointly with India, China and Russia help the world to get out of the crisis.”

The two leaders also signed agreements on military technology cooperation, on which no details were given, and on visa-free travel between the countries for short trips.

Regional giant Brazil has embarked on an overhaul of its armed forces and plans to spend tens of billions of dollars in the coming years to refurbish outdated equipment, sparking the interest of numerous foreign defense contractors from Paris to Moscow.

Brazil sees a chance for closer cooperation with Russia in nuclear propulsion and aerospace technology.

Medvedev is scheduled to arrive late on Wednesday in Brazil neighbor Venezuela, a key buyer of Russian arms, and Cuba later this week as Russia seeks to reassert itself in a region that has grown more distant from the United States in recent years.

A fleet of Russian warships arrived in Venezuela on Tuesday to conduct joint naval exercises ahead of Medvedev’s visit, another step in President Hugo Chavez’s efforts to strengthen an alliance with Moscow and counter Washington’s influence.

Reporting by Oleg Shchedrov and Rodrigo Viga Gaier; writing by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Todd Benson and Philip Barbara