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Russian, Belarusian presidents to discuss Moscow-Minsk ties

April 03, 2017, 8:18 UTC+3

The two presidents are expected to discuss the prospects for further promotion of integration in Eurasia

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MOSCOW, April 3. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko meet in St Petersburg on Monday as part of Lukashenko’s working visit to Russia, the Kremlin press service said.

"In the course of top-level talks the two Presidents hope to discuss key issues on the bilateral agenda, the prospects for further promotion of integration in Eurasia, and some pressing international and regional issues," the report said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov indicated that the two leaders would certainly discuss "the contradictions that make themselves manifest in various nuances of Eurasian integration."

Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said Putin and Lukashenko were expected to discuss the issue of "a common Eurasian market without exemptions and restrictions", as well as "what should be done to create a more favorable environment for operations without any discriminatory measures."

The Russian ambassador in Minsk, Alexander Surikov, said on his part Putin and Lukashenko were going to discuss "the ossified problem of oil and gas."

Minsk and Moscow have been trying to settle the problem of natural gas supplied from Russia as of the beginning of 2016. Belarus insisted on equal-netback prices for Russian gas and sought to pay $ 73 per 1,000 cubic meters instead of $ 132.

In response to the underpayments for gas (running into over $ 700 million at present) Russia cut down the supplies of duty-free crude oil to Belarus. Belarusian government does not consider the monies demanded by Russia as a debt on its part.

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