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Militarisation does not solve problems, Putin says

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, striking a conciliatory tone towards the West, has said in Davos that militarisation would not solve the world's problems.

Putin, who presided over a big increase in Russia's defence budgets in his previous post as president, told the World Economic Forum (WEF) that Russia was "against spending more money on military efforts".

Putin also described the global financial crisis as a "perfect storm" whose destructive powers were multiplied.

Putin refrained from blaming the United States for the crisis but pointed out that just a year ago at Davos US delegates had emphasised their economy's fundamental stability.

Earlier Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao brought cautious optimism to business and government leaders pondering the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression saying China, a key market for companies in developed countries, believed it could meet its target of eight per cent economic growth for 2009.

Wen spoke to the gathering of 2,500 political, business and other leaders in the Swiss Alps after an opening day of debate over state-led bailouts and worries that efforts to counter climate change would fall by the wayside.

"The size of the problem confronting us today is larger than in the 1930s," said billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

The scope of the decline was evident even among the gift bags that attendees – who pay thousands of dollars to participate – received this year. Instead of loaded personal digital assistants, fine Swiss chocolates and gadgets they got basic, blue-hued pedometers instead, suggesting shoe leather instead of limos as a way to get to meetings.

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