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Leaders Hold Talks In Minsk Ahead Of CIS Summit

BelarusianPresident Alyaksandr Lukashenka (center) and his Russian and Kazakh counterparts Vladimir Putin (right) and Nursultan Nazarbaev meet in Minsk on October 24.
The presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have met in Minsk to discuss their countries' Customs Union.

They will be joined later on October 24 by the presidents of Ukraine, Tajikistan and Armenia, and the first deputy prime minister of Kyrgyzstan to discuss plans to turn the Customs Union into a Eurasian Economic Union that aims to include several other countries from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to meet separately with Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych to discuss Kyiv's moves toward closer ties with the European Union.

Moscow has been pressuring Ukraine to abandon its drive toward the EU and join the Customs Union instead.

Putin is also expected to meet with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to discuss a dispute over a Russian potash company whose chief executive is being held in Minsk. T

The talks on October 24 will be followed by a CIS summit the following day.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax