Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin did not plan to hold talks with Alexander Lukashenko during his visit to Belarus, the Russian government said on Tuesday, denying speculation the Belarusian president had gone to Venezuela to avoid a meeting.
"The meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during [Putin's] visit to Belarus was not scheduled because the meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State will be held in Brest, not in Minsk," the statement said.
The government press service called "groundless" media speculation that Lukashenko had intentionally gone off on a visit to Venezuela to avoid meeting the Russian premier.
Putin arrived in Belarus on a working visit earlier on Tuesday for the meeting of the Russian-Belarusian Union State.
Putin and his Belarusian counterpart, Sergei Sidorsky, will focus on minimizing the repercussions of the economic crisis, the expansion of the Customs Union and energy review for 2010.
MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti)