The Group of Eight summit in Canada announced that for the first time Russia, the newest member of this prestigious grouping, will host the annual summit in 2006. Hosting the meeting is tangible evidence of full membership in the summit club. Russia has been seeking to host the annual summit for the past four years. But until this meeting in the Canadian Rockies the other leaders were reluctant, offering various excuses for why the time was not yet ripe.
It was in 1991 that Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was invited by the British prime minister to attend the final hours of the economic summit in London. Since then Russia, first under Boris Yeltsin and now Vladimir Putin, has evolved from an add-on guest to a full member of what is now the Group of Eight.
Russia nominally gained full membership in 1998. However, the leaders of the United States, Canada, Italy, Germany, Britain, France and Japan have continued to meet separately to discuss financial issues at the beginning of each summit.
Russia will take a position behind Britain in the annual host rotation. Next year's summit will be in France, with 2004 in the United States. The annual summits have been held every year since 1975.