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Putin Makes Belarus First Trip Of New Term

Vladimir Putin with Dmitry Medvedev, who is now Russia's prime minister, and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (left to right) at a meeting in Russia in November.
Vladimir Putin will start the first foreign trip of his third Russian presidential term in neighboring Belarus, local media confirm.

The Kremlin said Putin is planned to make the state visit to Minsk from May 31-June 1.

Russian reports say that from Belarus, Putin is expected to visit Russia's leading trade partner Germany, then France, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and China.

The Kremlin last week said Putin, who was inaugurated on May 7, had canceled a planned trip to the United States next week, during which he had been expected to meet with President Barack Obama and other Group of Eight leaders.

Russian officials explained the cancellation by saying Putin would be busy forming Russia's new government.

Putin is now expected to meet with Obama at a Group of 20 meeting in mid-June.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and dpa