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    RUSSIAN PM: BELARUS NOT READY YET FOR RUSSIAN ROUBLE

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    MOSCOW, February 10th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - The Russian government is ready to sign a package of agreements on introducing the Russian rouble as the only monetary unit in Belarus from 2005. The Belarussian side, however, has some concerns that prevent it from submitting these documents for the approval of the Russia-Belarus Supreme State Council, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said to reporters on Tuesday.

    In his words, these are "consistent" agreements that should be signed. Nonetheless, the premier believes that Moscow and Minsk have not yet "reached the moment" when the supreme body of the union state could approve these documents and thus give a green light to the long debated currency integration of the two Slavic countries of the former USSR. But first, the Belarussian partners "would like to allay some of their concerns," said Kasyanov.

    Earlier in the day, the Belarussian premier suggested that the introduction of the single rouble, and indirect taxation and customs should be considered by the Supreme State Council of the union state. The Belarussian premier stated that "an algorithm of decision" was suggested for every issue, and that Moscow and Minsk could draw their positions as close as possible.

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