RUSSIA READY TO SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS WITH BELARUS, SERGEI LAVROV SAYS

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MINSK, MARCH 26, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI) - Moscow is ready to solve all problems arising in its relations with Minsk, gas delivery problems included, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here today, while negotiating with President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus.

The Russian leadership and President Vladimir Putin are guided by the need to solve all problems inevitably arising during the creation of all things new, Mr. Lavrov added.

In his words, this concerns efforts to draft the Union State's constitutional act and to float the rouble as a common legal tender. This concerns various problems now being discussed by our gas companies, Sergei Lavrov said.

We are sure that the Russian-Belarussian Union State's sustainable development is something inevitable, Mr. Lavrov noted.

Mr. Lavrov expressed satisfaction that Russian and Belarussian Foreign Ministries had already approved another program of their joint work.

We hope that the Union State's Supreme Council will endorse this program, Sergei Lavrov stressed.

For his own part, Alexander Lukashenko noted that Minsk hoped very much that the latest Russian Government reshuffle will facilitate the subsequent solution of various problems, which have accumulated in our relations.

According to Mr. Lukashenko, these problems are not as difficult, as they may seem.

Not only can we overcome some problems in our relations, but we can also expand bilateral cooperation still further, Alexander Lukashenko noted.

The President of Belarus said he was quite satisfied to meet the new Russian Foreign Minister.

I personally am very glad to meet you because we could previously watch you defend Russia's international interests on TV, Mr. Lukashenko said. Mr. Lavrov had served as Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, before becoming Russian Foreign Minister.

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