Kremlin Declines to Confirm Belarus Deal

MOSCOW Jan 10, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Russian government spokespeople declined to confirm Wednesday reports that President Vladimir Putin and his Belarus counterpart Alexander Lukashenko had reached a compromise over their two countries' trade dispute.

Lukashenko's press office had claimed the two had struck a compromise agreement in principle in the course of a telephone call Wednesday.

However, representatives of the Kremlin press service, and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade said they were unaware of any new developments. The news agency ITAR-Tass subsequently cited the Kremlin as confirming the two presidents had at least spoken to each other.

"In the course of the telephone conversation were discussed questions of cooperation between the Russian Federation and Belarus, amongst others in the field of energy, including the problems of transit for Russian oil through Belarussian territory," ITAR-Tass cited the Kremlin as saying.

The news agency RIA Novosti added that the Kremlin pointed out the call had taken place "at the initiative of the Belarussian side".

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