Prague, 20 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says relations with Russia remain a priority in Belarus' foreign policy but the country would not sacrifice its independence.
Speaking at a closed joint session of the Belarus parliament yesterday, Lukashenka said relations with Moscow would be expanded and called for the implementation of the 1996 treaty on the creation of a Belarusian-Russian union.
According to information leaked to the press, Lukashenka however rejected a proposal that after integration with Russia the status of the 6 Belarusian regions be that of regions of the Russian federation. Lukashenka did not specify the source of the proposal.
Lukashenka also said that the concept of the development of relations between Belarus and Russia would be submitted to a bilateral joint parliamentary session to be held in Moscow on March 11.
Earlier this week a Kremlin spokesman said Lukashenka will pay an official visit to Moscow in early march and meet with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.