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Russia, 7 others complete work on jobs strategy

Russia and the world's seven top industrialized nations adopted a jobs strategy Sunday that seeks to combine free market incentives with providing jobs for low-skilled workers.

The agreement came despite wide differences in labor policies among the eight nations, from the United States' tough welfare-to-work program to the well-cushioned benefits systems for the unemployed in France and Germany."If we can get this right we can ensure it is not necessary for there to be alienation and exclusion while growth and prosperity take place," Britain's Employment Secretary David Blunkett said.

Much of the communique, issued by labor and finance ministers after two days of meetings, sounded similar to strategies for dealing with the effect of globalization and technology debated at three previous jobs conferences.

However, the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, Britain, Germany, France and Italy all promised to submit proposals detailing how they will implement the strategy to a summit meeting of Group of Eight nations in Birmingham, England in May.

The seven-point plan included fostering entrepreneurship, offering "incentives" to welfare recipients to get back to work, encouraging lifelong learning, and loosening up on state regulations that hamper small and medium-size businesses.