AGREEMENT ON CUSTOMS UNION OF ECONOMIC FOUR TO BE READY BY JULY

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CHELYABINSK, May 17 (RIA Novosti) - A high-level group of officials for establishing the Common Economic Space of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan is to submit a block of agreements on the Customs Union to the Group of Four summit in July, Viktor Khristenko, Russia's Minister of Industry and Energy and chairman of the group, said at a meeting of the Russian president and his Kazakh counterpart with the heads of border regions of Russia and Kazakhstan.

"Fourteen more agreements should be added to the block of 29 to set up the Customs Union within the CES framework," Khristenko said.

"I think we will be able to submit proposals on both the 29 and the 14 agreements (the Customs Union) to the CES summit in early July," he said. "In this case," Khristenko said, "we will go over to the next stage."

He also suggested that the group's session be conducted in Moscow weekly in order to prepare the required set of agreements by July 1.

Khristenko said he believed it wrong to discuss each agreement bilaterally, as Ukraine suggests, instead of discussing the entire set of agreements.

"Ukraine insists on bilateral discussions of the agreements it is interested in, instead of discussing the entire set of agreements," Khristenko said.

According to him, "we are trying to take some agreements, for instance the agreement on customs tariffs, out of the common context and sign bilateral agreements, leaving the rest of the documents for later."

In his opinion, such practice may be fruitful only for a short period. "That is why it was decided to work out the first set of 29 agreements within the frameworks of the CES as the first step towards the four areas: goods, services, capital and workforce," Khristenko said.

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