Russia: Putin pledges $1.5 bln loan to Belarus during talks with Lukashenko

Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to extend a state credit line to Belarus worth $1.5 billion, during a face to face meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi on Monday. «We agreed that during this complicated period Moscow would grant Minsk a state loan of $1.5 billion and we will do this. I believe that our finance ministers are now working at a professional level on this issue,» said Putin. During the meeting the Russian leader also emphasised that the crisis in Belarus should be resolved without any pressure from abroad and stressed that the people of Belarus should deal with the current situation in the country themselves. «We favour the people of Belarus to deal with this situation and come to a common agreement on how to organise the work further without external pressure, calmly and in dialogue with each other,» added Putin. The Russian leader also expressed his hope that attempts to amend the constitution of Belarus would be successful. «We know about your offer to start working on the constitution. I consider this decision to be reasonable, timely and viable,» added Putin. For his part, Lukashenko thanked his Russian counterpart for his support during the post-election period. «First of all I would like to thank you. It is obvious and everyone understands it. [I would like to thank you] not for the implementation of treaties, it is obvious. You acted very decently, humanely. I personally thank you and all Russians, all those — and I will not specify — who supported us during this post-election period,» said Lukashenko. The leader of Belarus also stressed that Russia had proved its adherence to what he described as a ‘common state’ and added that «no one is allowed to rattle the saber» near the country’s borders. «We showed our determination that if outside the Belarusian borders someone is itching, we can scratch them any moment. I am very pleased, and I am very thankful for this, you demonstrated that the borders of Belarus are the borders of the common state. And no one is allowed to rattle the saber there,» said the president of Belarus. Putin and Lukashenko met face to face for the first time since the disputed presidential election that saw the incumbent Lukashenko re-elected for a sixth term. Earlier, the two leaders had held several telephone conversations.

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