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OTTAWA, March 4 (Reuters) - The Group of Seven leading industrialized nations are discussing whether to hold a meeting in the near future, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Tuesday, a move that would pointedly exclude Russia.
The G7 became the G8 in 1998 when Russia was formally included. Diplomats had previously said one way for the international community to punish Moscow for its incursion into Ukraine would be to hold a G7 meeting.
"I spoke to President Obama on that on the weekend, I've suggested that, and I know there are discussions among G7 sherpas (senior officials) about the possibility of a G7 meeting in the upcoming weeks," Harper told the Canadian Parliament.
Harper, who did not give further details, has been particularly critical of Russia over the actions of its armed forces in Ukraine.
Harper also announced Canada had suspended all planned bilateral military activities with Russia.
"We continue to view the situation in Ukraine with the gravest concern and will continue to review our relations with President Putin's government accordingly," he said.