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Russian, Kyrgyz Leaders Hold Short Meeting

Russian Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin (right) with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev (file photo)
MOSCOW -- Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin and Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambaev held a brief meeting before journalists at which Putin welcomed Atambaev's support for Kyrgyzstan's possible entry into the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia customs union.

The meeting on March 20 was held before journalists after a Eurasian Economic Community summit in the Russian capital, Moscow.

Kyrgyz presidential spokesman Kadyr Toktogulov told RFE/RL that the two leaders held what he characterized as fruitful private discussions earlier in the day.

For his part, Atambaev assured Putin that Kyrgyzstan considers Russia a close partner.

It's not clear whether the two men discussed Russia's military presence in Kyrgyzstan.