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Russia, Kazakhstan Agree On Customs Union

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Belarus might be able to join the union later.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says that Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed to launch a customs union from July 1, cutting Belarus out of the first stage of the union.

Putin made the announcement at a press conference in St. Petersburg.

"Our Kazakh partners and we agreed to launch the customs code and other agreements related to the customs union on a bilateral basis from July 1 this year,” Putin said. “We signed an international agreement today that will enable us to move toward deeper integration, if necessary, on a bilateral basis."

Putin said Russia and Kazakhstan would be open to talks on Belarus joining the union at a later stage.

compiled from agency reports