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Putin And Lukashenka Meet, Attend Union State Council Session

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with his Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka in St. Petersburg on March 15.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka have met in St. Petersburg and discussed their countries' union state.

They held talks and then attended the Russian-Belarusian Union State's Supreme State Council on March 15.

In his speech at the session, Lukashenka said "development of the union state demonstrates our unwavering policy of deeper integration."

Russian Economy Minister Anton Siluanov told journalists that the two presidents discussed a possible $2 billion loan to Minsk from Moscow, which Belarus needs to avert debt default and currency devaluation.

Belarus is required to pay off $3.1 billion in loans to the International Monetary Fund as well as Russia this year.

In 2012, the IMF said it would no longer consider extending programs to Belarus because of the authoritarian Lukashenka's refusal to reform.

Based on reporting by AFP, ITAR-TASS, and RIA-Novosti