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MINSK, March 29 /ITAR-TASS/. President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus is expected to have a meeting later in the day with Ukraine’s acting interim President Alexander Turchinov, who has been appointed to the post by the Verkhovna Rada, the presidential press service told Itar-Tass.
The meeting will take place in Belarus’s southeast Gomel region.
“It looks like we should have met quite some time ago to exchange opinions on the situation taking shape not only in Ukraine as such but also around it, and to map out further steps in relations between our two states and peoples, which are so close to each other,” Lukashenko said.
“I think we’ll tap a common viewpoint as a result of today’s negotiations - I think we already have many points of contact, which have become clear recently,” he said. “We’ll try to bridge our differences on the issues that are not met with enough understanding today - maybe because of a shortage of information.”
“There are many other issues in Belarusian-Ukrainian bilateral relations that could be discussed at these talks,” Lukashenko said.
Alexander Turchinov said on his part that “Ukraine and Belarus are not just neighbors.”
“These are fraternal peoples that have been living, working and fighting in battles shoulder to shoulder for centuries and so it’s very important for us to strengthen relations between our nationals, to assure the absence of impenetrable borders, and to see to it that both Belarusians and Ukrainians would feel secure and could count on each other’s assistance,” he said.
“Feeling support, good-neighborly relations, and friendship of the Belarusian people is the main objective I put forward for this visit,” Turchinov said.
“The two countries have always tapped solutions to any complex problems,” Lukashenko’s press service said quoting Turchinov’s statement.
Lukashenko said in an interview with Ukrainian TV Friday night that he kept up contacts with Turchinov.
“I maintain relations with Turchinov and I also spoke to representatives of the incumbent coalition, including Vitaly Klitschko,” he said. “I hope Turchinov and I will meet shortly and will look at the ways of keeping up relations between our countries. We are neighbors, aren’t we?”
He also said he was ready to take on the role of mediator in resolving the crisis in relations between Ukraine and Russia.
“If I’m told that this is important for my Ukraine and my Russia, then I’m ready to act as a mediator,” he said, adding however that he was not seeking this part for himself.
“In April, I’ll have a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Minsk and that’ll be an occasion for acting as a mediator, although I’m not craving for this function for myself,” Lukashenko said.