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European Leaders Issue New Year's Greetings


Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered his New Year's greetings to the nation, hailing his country's economic achievements over the past year but expressing concern about inflation.

The Russian leader said gross domestic product stood at 6.4 percent, about one-half percent above projections. He noted an increase in investments and the population's real income, and a drop in unemployment. But he said inflation stood at 11 percent, more than two percent higher than projected.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned of the need to deal with new challenges facing the country. He said Britons will face critical decisions on maintaining peace and prosperity as well as national resolve to deal with terrorism.

Germany's new chancellor, Angela Merkel, urged citizens to actively work to end the country's economic stagnation. She pledged her government will seek to stabilize public finances, improve taxation and provide jobs.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, and AP.