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Belarus: President Says Friendship With Russia Unharmed

Minsk, 10 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said today a recent quarrel with Russia over a detained journalist will not harm his friendship with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Lukashenka, speaking to a joint session of both houses of parliament, downplayed the incident and said "the suqabble" between the two presidents will not last for long.

Lukashenka also said he had ben invited to Moscow October 22 for a meeting of a regional customs union, which, besides Belarus and Russia, includes also Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Lukashenka added that during the gathering he will have time for a private meeting with Yeltsin.

The row between Russia and Belarus was sparked by the July detention of a Russian ORT journalist for allegedly violating Berlarus' border. The journalist, Pavel Sheremet, was released earlier this week following pressure from the Kremlin.