The gathering of the world's richest nations in Denver tonight - the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialised nations - can be billed as a summit of firsts. It is the first time Russia is to be given an enhanced role in recognition of its strategic importance; it is the first time the G7 meeting is being called the 'Summit of the Eight'; and it is the first time financial markets feel they can relax while a G7 discussion is in progress. Goldman Sachs chief currency economist Jim O'Neill said: 'This is not anything for financial markets to get excited about.' He said the rates of exchange between the United States dollar, the yen and the deutschemark had reached a level policy-makers were largely unconcerned about. The yen was not too cheap to cause overdue concern for the long-term US-Japan trade deficit, Mr O'Neill said, and following the European Intergovernmental conference in Amsterdam, 'policy-makers are probably sick to death' with the single currency issue. 'I don't see that particularly being raised either,' said ING Barings strategist Matthew Merrett. This does not mean Denver will be a non-event, US officials say. Unlike G7 meetings during the rest of the year, this is the only one when finance ministers accompany their heads of government, immediately raising the level of debate to political and strategic issues. As such issues usually need the financial backing of governments, market economists will be casting a watchful eye on proceedings, in search of clues that might strain budget deficits. Financial industry regulators will also be keen to see how a much-anticipated deal aimed at containing systemic risk develops. Echoing the recent annual report of the Bank for International Settlements, a concrete network of supervisors between the G7 nations is being proposed, where linkages can be forged and information shared. Memories of how the collapse of the Mexican peso in 1994 affected emerging markets, particularly Asia, are said to be still vivid in policy-makers minds. This is also expected to be bolstered by a programme to help emerging economies strengthen their financial systems. One method to ensure uniform strength and security is bred in financial markets is thought to be by establishing a set of guidelines that will be adhered to worldwide. The approach towards fostering emerging economies will also be aimed at Africa, where specific policies are to be put in place. At a time when several countries in the continent are undergoing major political change, the G7 is expected to make a major effort to promote trade and investment in Africa, aimed particularly at bringing the sub-Sahara out of poverty. The scenes of slaughter in countries such as Rwanda, and reports of similar tales in Zaire have spurred countries to find an answer to stem further conflicts in Africa. The US has proposed a policy of trade, not aid, which it is keen to have endorsed at the summit, but means commitments in the budgets of several G7 members who are becoming cautious ahead of their qualification for European Economic and Monetary Union This project is still undergoing some doubts, with European leaders striving to understand the position of the newly elected French government. How, in what form, and crucially when the union will take place is also a matter for concern. Officials say leaders will be keen to express continuing support for the project.