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Kremlin welcomes oligarch invitations to Davos forum

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin welcomed Monday the decision by the World Economic Forum to renew invitations for three high-profiled Russians after an initial snub. A day after the WEF said it will include a Russian delegation at the forum, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin was glad that the WEF listened to Russia's arguments against "a selective approach to Russian business."

WEF organizers had said last month that billionaire tycoons Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, and the head of the state-controlled bank VTB Andrei Kostin, regulars at the annual gathering of political and business leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, were not welcome this year as they had been targeted by U.S. sanctions.

The Russian government then said it would boycott the event if it fails to lift restrictions on the attendance of Russian businessmen. Russia's respected online publication The Bell reported Monday that WEF organizers came forward with several pre-conditions for the sanctioned visitors. They are reportedly not allowed to take part in panels organized by U.S. nationals and U.S. authorities or engage in any business transactions with U.S. nationals, even if that's simply about travel arrangements.

Asked about The Bell's report, Peskov said he understood the WEF's jitters about the U.S. sanctions but expressed confidence that the Russian businessmen will have no problem finding useful non-American contacts to engage with during the forum.

A WEF official didn't immediately respond to an email request seeking an elaboration.

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