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Russia-Belarus anti-crisis package to be approved

MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) - The presidents of Russia and Belarus will co-chair a session of the Union State Supreme Council on Tuesday where it is expected both sides will approve a package of joint anti-crisis measures, a presidential aide said.

"Main attention will be focused on concerted efforts to reduce the losses from the global financial crisis for the economies of Russia and Belarus, and it is planned to approve a subsequent joint action plan," Sergei Prikhodko said.

"Despite the negative influence of the deepening crisis on the global economy, trade turnover between Russia and Belarus has maintained its positive dynamics," increasing by over 30% in 2008 to almost $34 billion, the official said.

The aide said that Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Lukashenko are also expected to continue discussions on the creation of a customs union, due to be set up in 2009, and also establishing a common economic space, streamlining agricultural legislation, developing investment cooperation, as well as currency integration.

Prikhodko said the Russian side had no plans to discuss granting Belarus a 100 billion ruble ($2.7 billion) loan in exchange for moving to ruble trade payments, however the official added that the Belarusian side could raise the issue during the meeting.

Russia announced on Friday that it would transfer the second part of a $2 billion, 15-year stabilization loan to Belarus, earlier than planned. Originally the second $1 billion tranche was due to be transferred at the end of February.

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