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Putin to visit Minsk on Russia-Belarus union issues
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08:55, December 12, 2007

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to Minsk and attend a summit of the Russia-Belarus union later this week, Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Putin and his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko have held a phone conversation on Tuesday, discussing the Minsk meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Russia-Belarus Union State slated for Dec. 13-14, Itar-Tass cited Kremlin sources.

The meeting will focus on the Union State's 4 billion-ruble (1,580 million U.S. dollars) budget for next year and discuss the adoption of a constitutional act and fuel and energy cooperation, said Union State Secretary Pavel Borodin.

Draft of the constitutional act will suggest to set up a confederation of the two neighbors, to forge a union parliament and to delegate certain powers, including border protection, customs, defense, military-technical cooperation, financial, credit and price policy, to the Union State, he said.

Though there have be reports that Putin would be leader of the union between the former Soviet members after he stepping down next March, the meeting will not establish the posts of the Union State's president and ministers, Borodin said.

The two countries, which agreed to forge a Union State after the collapse of the Soviet Union, witnessed a down-turn relationship in recent years due to disputes over oil and gas prices.

However, Lukashenko has pledged not to give up the integration with Russia, a "key partner" of the nation.

Source: Xinhua

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