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Belarus, Turkmen Presidents Discuss Investment Projects

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov with his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo)
ASHGABAT (RFE/RL) -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov held talks in Ashgabat on June 18, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Lukashenka is expected to sign several bilateal trade and economic agreements during his two-day visit.

The two leaders also visited the northeastern Lebap Province to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the largest potash manufacturing complex in Central Asia with an annual capacity of 1.4 million tons.

Turkmenistan and Belarus are to work jointly on the project and invest some $2 billion in the potassium-producing plant useful in the manufacture of glass, soap, and fertilizers.

Alexander Narodetsky, a British-based expert on the post-Soviet countries, told RFE/RL that the project "could give powerful support to the Belarusian economy which is so adversely affected by the global financial crisis."

Belarus is considered a world leader in potash processing and in making fertilizers.

Some experts say Lukashenka's visit could also be linked to recent tension between Russia and Belarus as Minsk seeks to increase its relations with other countries in the region.