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1. Title tag = The most important tag which search engines read.
2. Description tag = also very important (I have seen cases where google will use the decription if there is not enough content (text) on the page.
3. Meta keywords tag = the least important, does not help with ranking.
And descriptions indeed are used by google, just google for <snip> and you'll see a good example.
[edited by: Receptional_Andy at 8:31 am (utc) on June 27, 2008]
[edit reason] No specific keywords, please, as per charter [/edit]