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Belarusian, Russian Presidents Meet At Black Sea Resort

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo) Prague, 4 April 2005 -- The presidents of Russia and Belarus began meeting today in Russia's Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he and his Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka need to discuss possible reforms to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

"I think there is another question we need to discuss and on which we need to compare our views and discuss how to proceed, considering events in the world and in the CIS," Lukashenka said. "We have nothing to hide, although as far as Russian-Belarus ties are concerned, we have no special problems."

Putin said CIS member states have been making diverse proposals concerning the organization.

The CIS groups all but three of the former Soviet republics.

Putin today hailed Russia-Belarus relations and said bilateral trade is growing.

"Our bilateral trade balance is getting bigger," Putin said. "As far as I know, thank God, we have no energy problems. Our energy specialists tell me that they are in constant contact with their Belarusian colleagues."

Lukashenka also said that relations between Belarus and Russia are good.

"The main thing in our meeting is that we should really give some kind of signal about our good relations so that people don't think that we have some kind of problems in our relations and, therefore, we don't talk about them and we don't meet," Lukashenka said. "As far as I understand, this is not the case."