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Chernobyl ceremony stresses N-safety

Tough new guidelines could help prevent accidents like the massive Chernobyl meltdown, Russia's president insisted Tuesday, defending nuclear energy during solemn ceremonies commemorating the 25th anniversary of the worst nuclear accident in history.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych took part in a religious service outside Chernobyl's damaged No. 4 nuclear reactor, laying the first stone of a monument to cleanup workers and placing bouquets of red roses at another monument to Chernobyl victims.

Medvedev said he has invited world leaders to work on rules for safer nuclear energy. His economic adviser, Arkady Dvorkovich, said Russia forwarded its proposals Tuesday to leaders of other Group of Eight countries, and he hoped they would be discussed at next month's summit in France.

"It's of utmost importance that we understand what kind of force humankind is dealing with so that our solutions meet the challenges of nuclear energy," Medvedev said.

The accident April 26, 1986, spewed radioactive fallout over much of Europe and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in heavily hit areas of Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia. It left forests and farmland contaminated.

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