Russian, Belarusian presidents to meet in Sochi

Other News Materials 19 August 2008 11:59 (UTC +04:00)

The Russian and Belarusian presidents are due to meet in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday to discuss bilateral and international relations, a Kremlin source said.

At the meeting in Sochi, host city for the 2014 Olympic Games, Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Lukashenko will discuss "the phased transition to market prices in trade and economic cooperation, including the fuel and energy sphere," the source said.

A gas row has been a point of concern in bilateral relations since Russia moved to market prices for its energy supplies. The gas price for Belarus is the lowest among other ex-Soviet nations, RIA Novosti reported.

Russia's natural gas price for Belarus is due to rise to over $200 per 1,000 cubic meters in 2009, up from $119 in the first quarter of 2008.

"The agenda for the talks is continuing work on forming a common economic space and strengthening ties for integration on an economic basis," the source said.

Russian-Belarusian trade reached $18 billion in the first six months of the year, a 60% increase, year-on-year.

The talks will also focus on preparations for a session of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) scheduled for September 5 and a meeting of leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States on October 10.

Last week, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced that Georgia is leaving the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose alliance of post-Soviet countries, and urged Ukraine to follow suit.

Without Georgia, the CIS will comprise ten full members - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan is an associate member.